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Industry warned to tackle cyber crime

Date: October 13, 2004
By: Alastair Reed

NDUSTRY must get to grips with the increasing threat posed by hi-tech crime or face potentially disastrous consequences, according to the director of a leading European technology think-tank.

Robert Urry, director of the Cyber Tools On-Line Search for Evidence (CTOSE), an EU-funded research project headquartered in Edinburgh, told a conference in the city yesterday that existing piecemeal defence against computer crime was making targets out of legitimate business.

He said CTOSE aimed to develop a universal framework through which digital evidence can be gathered and used by a combination of companies, courts and law enforcement agencies.

Urry said: "The internet has fundamentally changed the world - from a physical to an on-line one. And as a result the threats to businesses have also changed. But so far organisations have been too slow to adapt to the new environment. They have to realise it’s not a case of if they’re attacked, but when."

According to the US Treasury department, electronic crime is costing organisations at least $3 billion a year, and wider society about $30bn a year, but as yet there is no common structure to tackle the problem.

At CTOSE’s first European conference yesterday, Urry said he knew that several big-name banks and businesses were being hit hard by organised computer crime, but that many were unwilling to report the information to law enforcement agencies for fear of negative publicity.

"Only about 10 per cent of cases are reported," he said. "But what they have to realise is that confidence in computer systems can only be gained by tackling the threat, not ignoring it."

Urry said CTOSE was pushing hard to pioneer a European evidence-gathering process, through which staff and companies would be able to gather electronic evidence admissible in legal proceedings.

He said the process would not only tackle the hi-tech crime threat, but would also allow systems to be kept up and running during any investigation, and would reduce the economic impacts of an attack.
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