Computer Crime Research Center


Internet and crimes

Date: April 06, 2004
Source: ABC Online
By: George Negus

GEORGE NEGUS: The Net's downside does go beyond all those disturbing virtual sex sites to a spectrum of cybercrime, from credit card fraud to cyberterrorism, identity theft, and unfortunately, of course, child pornography. Technically, by definition, cybercrime is a global problem so every country needs to at least make a start to combat it on their own doorstep. So what should we be doing here? Late last year, the Australian police forces set up a high-tech crime unit and our studio guest is its head, Alastair MacGibbon, who, interestingly enough, is not a computer nerd.

Alastair, good to see you.


GEORGE NEGUS: That was pleasant stuff. That's the good side, not the downside.

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: Indeed. There's a lot of positives about the Internet, no doubt.

GEORGE NEGUS: Yeah. But she did mention cyberstalking. Is that something you're concerned about

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: You have to be careful about what details you give. If you do that and you protect your identity somewhat and you're careful about the things you do, then the Internet's a great tool.

GEORGE NEGUS: How do you define cybercrime?

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: We categorise it in two ways - the new crimes, such as the hacking or intrusions, the Internet worms and viruses and the denial of services, they're the new crimes. Then there's the old crimes done a new way using the Internet as the vehicle.

GEORGE NEGUS: What about Internet banking? That's a pretty scary area for a lot of people. They don't like giving their information to who knows what.

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: Well, I don't think it should be. We haven't seen compromises of the actual banking computers themselves. What we have seen is people being manipulated out of their passwords and usernames. What it is, is people just playing psychology on the Internet. They'll send them an email, for example, and say, "Please log onto this website." You click on a link which takes you automatically to something that looks similar to the bank page you'd normally log into. From there, you type in your username and password. It may then throw you to the actual site and ask you to log in again - to the real bank site. What happens there is the criminal can have access to your funds and they'll transfer them out. So that, in itself, is you being fooled out of it. You don't... you wouldn't tell a person what your PIN number was to your credit card. Why would you? So much of the Internet is 'do what you would in real life'.

The same can be said, if I could, about children being on the Internet. We teach them stranger danger, but online, we have them talking to people they've never met, telling their real details, telling where they live, saying whether Mum and Dad are home. And parents let them do that while they wouldn't let them talk to a stranger down the shops.

GEORGE NEGUS: Very good point.

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: It's all just about doing what would be normal and rational. Don't think because you're sitting behind a computer you let your guard down. On the contrary - keep it up like a normal conversation with someone until you trust them. Then the Internet provides that useful tool for access to people you'd otherwise not meet.

GEORGE NEGUS: I was thinking before, we were saying the Net's only been around for about 10 years. I guess it's been a case for people like yourself of being in a continual state of catch-up.

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: Certainly. The way technology is, I don't think we could ever claim to be on top. We are trying to take policing services into the digital world. That has problems - technology does advance very rapidly. Police services are increasingly able to keep pace. I doubt we'll ever be at the front of the wave, though.

GEORGE NEGUS: Right. E-business, of course, is a whole new area. I mean, is that costing the country money at the moment, people fraudulently tapping into people's affairs?

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: There are ways that business can actually protect itself and that people, I guess, online at home can protect themselves. Install the right type of software, so at the very least, you have to have an antivirus software. You should have a firewall, which is essentially just a program that prevents people from accessing your computer in ways you don't want them to.

GEORGE NEGUS: Do they always work?

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: You never say always. But if people don't install the right type of software or the right things on their system, or they have all the software in the world but behave in a manner that allows themselves to be manipulated, there'll always be the crime.

GEORGE NEGUS: Do you think we're doing enough in Australia to prepare for this whole cybercrime phenomenon?

ALASTAIR MACGIBBON: I think we're moving ahead. We'll never solve it. We do take, in Australia, the light-touch approach when it comes to Internet regulation. We expect industry and we expect people to do their best... to do their best in sort of looking after themselves and we see law enforcement as only fitting in a very small part of the Internet.

GEORGE NEGUS: Well, I hope we've gone a long way today to demystifying the area of cybercrime. Thanks for that. Good to talk to you.

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2004-10-27 12:01:48 - teri maa di ashu
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