An eCrime Story

At last month’s eCrime congress in London, a hi-tech, digital keypad solution was in place to test the five hundred delegates’ views on a number of different issues touching on the subject of NetCrime. Other than the opening presentations on both days, the event was barred to the media but the results of the survey from an audience of leading international business, law-enforcement and financial services figures raised a number of surprises The greatest of these occurred on the second day, when 41% of the responding audience indicated that their business has lost more than £1 million to eCrime in the past twelve months.

The size of this figure (which excluded the law enforcement officers in the sample) was far higher than anyone had anticipated. The congress had heard, ‘in camera’, reports that suggested a dramatic escalation in business and personal losses since the previous year’s eCrime Congress in April 2005 and 21% of the audience admitted to have had personal experience of identity theft over the period with 11% experiencing some form of financial loss as a consequence.

An encouraging note was that organisations are now seen to have a better grasp of the benefits of having a good security strategy with the public sector seen to be outperforming the private sector by 10% in their recognition of its value. This however left delegates admitting in 20% of cases that their organisation did not have an adequate security policy in place with only 28% of the audience claiming to be ISO 17799 compliant.

Organisations are increasingly taking out insurance against information risk with 23% following this route towards achieving a good night’s sleep. Outsourcing of the security function is not as widespread as the service companies might like with 13% of the eCrime congress audience outsourcing more than 60% of their IT security function to a third-party specialist organisation.

Given the international nature of the conference, confidence in cooperation and mutual legal assistance treaties as a means of combating eCrime was relatively low at between 1 and 2 out of a maximum scale of 5. Some 24% of the audience had no confidence whatsoever in the strength of international cooperation but police officers were not excluded from this sample.

The concept of “trusted” brands and overall confidence in the internet as a viable commercial medium appears, from the survey to be moving towards a crisis of confidence but still has some way to go. The conference heard from one leading pharmaceutical company of the difficulties it was facing in fighting counterfeit drugs and was left with the stark message that in some parts of the world that the counterfeit drugs trade is so endemic that one should not expect anything was is given by a doctor or a hospital to have any active ingredients.

The growing size of the eCrime Congress as a highly vertical event, indicates the importance being given to the subject at an international level, with companies such as eBay, Amazon, Yahoo and even the largest Islamic bank in the Middle-east giving presentations alongside the likes of Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur of the Metropolitan Police and Wang Zhigang , the Deputy Divisional Commander of the  Chinese People’s Public Information Network Security Bureau in Beijing.

Outside the presentations and in among the conference networking, the impression I am left with is that overall, there is a sense of frustration that government on a global basis is failing to come to terms with the threat and allocate anything near the level of resources required to challenge a growing “Dark Economy” that threatens to suffocate the progress of the World Wide Web under a pervasive blanket of organised criminal behaviour.

2006 was looking for real signs of progress over 2005 and found instead that while awareness of the need to invest in good security among businesses was higher, increasingly sophisticated criminal opportunity is prospering on a transnational basis and fighting crime on the internet is equivalent to fighting the mythical Hydra. Lop-off one of its heads and two more will swiftly grow again in its place.

You can find the finished 2006 e-crime congress survey here

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