Actions Speak Louder Than Keystrokes

With media coverage very much focused on the first day of last week’s eCrime congress, day two almost passed unnoticed.

The release of the NOP poll examing ‘The Impact of Hi-tech Crime on UK Business’, had revealed, as expected, that the problem of eCrime continues to grow at the expense of business but its most revealing ‘bombshell’ statistic, was the news that at least three companies had, between them, experienced losses in excess of £60 million. Just as revealing perhaps was the figure for the number of businesses reporting hi-tech crime to the police. Less than 25%, a troubling statistic which strengthens the hands of fraudsters, phishers and extortionists.

On the second day of the conference, Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble of the National Crime Squad argued that the National Hi-tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) is everything that SOCA, the new Serious & Organised Crime Agency should aspire to. “Every police officer”, said Gamble, “Needs to understand that eCrime is not just paedophile crime. The police need to be more informed and educated and must realise that the convergence between old and new crime has already taken place. “There is”, he said, “A danger of undermining our own credibility. Talk is cheap and money buys whiskey”, said Gamble and “If we have to find a solution, it may have to be in the absence of government support if necessary”.

He concluded his conference summary by adding,” We don’t want people saying of our hi-tech policing capability, we knew who they were but not what they did”. “Instead”, said Gamble, “We need to be asking what we can do for you”.

On the first day of the conference, Home Office Minister, Caroline Flint MP, gave a well-polished performance, which appeared to reiterate the Government’s intention of throwing legislation and consultation at the eCrime problem and the promise of a strategy to appear very soon.

Jim Paice MP, the shadow police and legal affairs spokesman. Offered a very different impression of progress on day two, quoting from Winston Churchill: “So they, [the Government], go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent”.

“The Conservative Party”, said Paice, “Believes that confidence in the Internet is essential to the future of this country and that the race to deliver 100% eGovernment by 2005 and through digital inclusion, achieve the maximum Broadband penetration among the population without considering the potential impact of eCrime is unwise. This parallels Labour’s race to build the council tower blocks of the 1960’s without giving any thought to the social consequences that accompanied them”.

“We would”, he continued, “Like to call today not only for the swift publication of the Government’s long overdue eCrime strategy document but also for a much broader review of the nation’s eCrime strategy and how Government imagines it can resist the approaching tide of digital crime with the overworked resource at its disposal”?

With four hundred delegates from across the world in the audience eager to express their own views on the problem of hi-tech crime, the conference heard from CitiGroup’s Director of fraud management, Joe Triano, a call for a truly international Hi-tech Crime Agency and once again, from UK delegates, representing the largest institutions and businesses, there was a call for a single organisation in government with authority for all Internet security and crime issues, instead of the present “Home Office problem”.

Delegates agreed that the law is not tough enough on offenders who are invariably punished less than speeding motorists and that the criminal justice system needs to treat more seriously a criminal process that is increasingly threatening brand confidence and the commercial viability of digital business.

Somehow, it was agreed, that business, government and the police must find new ways of sharing information that can lead to a partnership against serious and organised crime on the ground and in cyberspace. “This”, said Jim Paice, “Demands trust and mutual confidence” but how it can be achieved in a practical sense may be a question that is still being asked at next year’s eCrime Congress.


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