(What is cybercrime?)

latest cybercrime alerts

"Cybercrime" sounds like something straight out of a science-fiction movie: no one can tell exactly what it entails and most people believe it will constitute a real threat only in a very different world, sometime in the distant future.
Unfortunately for most of us law-abiding citizens, cybercrime - unlike the majority of legitimate online economic activities - is flourishing. Last year, malicious attacks on US corporate websites rose by 100 per cent. In Russia, where it is growing at more than 200 per cent a year, police say cybercrime has become a challenge of the same magnitude as drugs and illegal arms trading. Last year, four-fifths of the world's companies reported virus attacks and nearly two-thirds of all web pages are thought to have been targeted by some sort of ill-intentioned activity.

Cybercrime refers to a ragbag of illegal activities involving the use of information technology. They range from financial fraud to website hacking, and encompass acts as diverse as industrial espionage and some forms of pornography and gambling. While politicians and legislators continue to squabble - after three years of debate the US and France still disagree over whether racist e-mail is illegal - the online community has reached one unanimous conclusion: cybercrime is bad for business, because it scares customers away.

Until consumers are reassured that their personal and financial details are safe, they will remain wary of making purchases on the web. This reassurance can come in two forms. The first, on which governments and multilateral organisations such as the Council of Europe are working, is to provide a clear legal framework protecting individuals from fraud and offering them the means to fight back should they become victims. The second, advocated by the private sector, is to make technology itself more secure.

A high degree of protection can only come from a combination of both these solutions. However, the web policing methods being considered by governments raise fears of potential abuse of individuals' right to privacy. Some proposals, such as the obligation to keep records of all electronic information for as long as several years, also threaten to impose insurmountable burdens on business. Luckily for companies, governments are notorious for failing to keep up with technological innovation. The private sector has a head start in the race to convince consumers that their business is safe with it, and to capitalise on the resulting gratitude. Or, in techno-jargon, companies have a "first-mover advantage" over government.

Published: September 18 2001 13:19GMT | Last Updated: September 21 2001 10:23GMT
Cybercrime & Security
Chaos Computer Club
Computer Security Institute
Council of Europe
Institute of directors
Security Focus

Cybercrime Analysis
Cybercrime Investigation
Council of EU Cybercrime Convention
Activities on Cybervrime
Security Portal - iNFOSYSSEC


Web of deceit
From hackers to attackers to data theft to financial fraud, e-crime is on the rise in Europe. And it is costing a fortune. They along with governments and law enforcers, want to fight it. | Read

The hands of Europe's police agency are tied
No, says the director of Europol, it is not his aim to paint alarmist scenarios of the future. But because "the internet has created a new sphere of life for us", it has simultaneously created "a new, virtual scene of crime", Jürgen Storbeck explains | Read

Create your business security policy
Dark threatening forces, spotty teenage hackers and disgruntled employees are possibly threatening your business | Read

Brussels in a frantic search for balance
The European Commission is struggling to find a common position on combating cybercrime | Read

Types of attack and options for defence
The threat presented by persons inside an organisation is much greater than the risk from any external hackers | Read

Confessions of an ethical hacker
It is no ordinary office job that Paul "you-don't-need-to-know-my-surname" performs. This self-confessed computer freak has been on the road for the last 18 months, employed as an "ethical hacker" by IBM UK | Read