This week, London witnesses a gathering of experts from business, finance, law-enforcement and industry from every corner of the globe. They are here to explore the growing problem of hi-tech crime and what can be done to combat the threat it presents to individuals and a fragile digital economy.
The e-Crime Congress has been organised in partnership with the National Hi-tech Crime Unit (NHTCU). For two days law enforcement agencies from all over the world can exchange ideas and information with the chief security officers of the largest international banks and hear both government and opposition views on the subject.
Can such a gathering make a difference? Eurim’s Philip Virgo has wryly commented, “The only thing saving the information economy from complete collapse, is that organised crime wishes to milk the cow and not kill it.” It is this concern over the growing involvement of organised crime on the internet that now unites law-enforcement and business across the world.
In the face of fraud, extortion, phishing, hacking, viruses and worms, the concept of "partnership" has become the watchword in 2004. Chief superintendent Len Hynds, director of the NHTCU, believes that “with the internet privately owned, it’s absolutely essential that a partnership between government and industry exists to respond to threats from the electronic frontier”.
In expressing this opinion, he is finding support from business. “The only way in which we are going to make a collective impact on e-crime is when government and industry really start working in partnership rather than in isolation,” says Paul Wood, the managing director and chief security officer of UBS Investment Bank.
On the opposite side of the Atlantic the experience is no different. Chris Painter, the deputy chief of the computer crime & intellectual property section at the US Department of Justice, argues,” A partnership between the government and the private sector is essential to any effective response to the growing threat posed by electronic crime.
"Given the speed of advancing technology and the unique and often differing skills law enforcement and industry bring to the table, co-operation expands our tool set and maximises our chance of success. In addition, partnership fosters trust, the foundation to any program to combat e-crime."
But can partnership prove effective as a defence against a largely unrestricted environment of the size of the internet? Bill Thompson, the information security investigator at Orange, believes, “Industry and law enforcement see e-crime from different perspectives but sharing experiences and information are of vital importance if we are to succeed in fighting this new threat."
Looked upon from the outside, however, partnership against crime on the internet may offer sound common sense, a circling of the wagons against a largely unseen enemy.
With 2004 expected to prove the worst year to date in the story of rising of crime on the internet, we can only hope that through the exchange of intelligence, ideas and techniques, business and law enforcement, we can find the common ground that will, one day, lead to a safer and more trustworthy internet environment. It has never been more urgently needed than it is today and tomorrow may be too late.
What do you think?
Do you think a partnership to fight e-crime would be effective? Tell us in an e-mail >> ComputerWeekly.com reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the website. Please state if your answer is not for publication.
Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.
Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.
For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit www.zentelligence.com