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ISSE 2010: Police are playing catch-up as criminals embrace IT

Fighting cybercrime will be a greater task than all crime fighting efforts of the past, a top German police official has told the ISSE 2010 security conference in Berlin.

"Cybercrime will be the biggest problem in crimefighting in years to come," said Jürgen Maurer, vice-president in Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office.

Just about every type of criminal is starting to use technology, and the phenomenon of global networking and the sheer volume of data are the biggest challenges to crimefighters, he said.

Ideally, law enforcement should be in a position to anticipate criminal uses of technology, but is still playing catch-up, said Maurer.

Cybercrime is something all sectors of society has to tackle, he said, from users in terms of prevention to governments in terms of data retention legislation.

According to Maurer, many investigations into cybercrime are being hampered by the fact that internet access providers are not universally required by law to store transaction data.

Law enforcement is coming up against territorial and functional boundaries and will have to adopt an updated approach by bolstering tried-and-tested techniques with new technologies, he said.

However, a joint, co-ordinated approach to fighting cybercrime has to be the way of the future, he said.

Technology-enabled crimes are fast overtaking traditional crimes, said Maurer, with Germany seeing a 43% overall increase from 2008 to 2009.

Computer fraud was the biggest group, making up 46% of the total; the number of internet-related crimes increased 23%; and phishing cases increased 64% in the same period.

"We expect a 70% growth in 2010 in the number of phishing cases, where access credentials and digital identities are stolen for criminal purposes," said Maurer.

The average loss associated with these cases is €5,000 per case, but German police expect this figure to rise through 2010.

In 2009, German police investigated 7,000 cases of stolen identities, but said Maurer, they believe the actual number of incidents is much higher as many cases are not reported.

All these new avenues for crime, spurred by broadband and cloud-based computing, are set to make cybercrime a formidable challenge to law enforcement, he said.


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