The UK cannot afford to fail to address the economic threat cyber crime poses to the country, says the head of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)
The government funding of ₤650m over four years for cyber security provides the opportunity of making a difference, Ian Andrews, chair of SOCA told the Cyber Security 2010 Summit in London.
But, he said, this requires government and the private sector to act together as well as a mobilisation of the user community.
The challenges are enormous, he said, but the situation is not hopeless, especially if every computer user begins to practice good computer hygiene.
"Just by following basic security and information assurance guidelines, and keeping application security patches up to date, we can defeat 80% of threats," said Andrews.
The private sector has a key role to play to harden defences around their computer systems, he said, as many organisations do not even have basic defences in place.
The private sector also has an important role to play in things such as the GetSafeOnline initiative, aimed at enabling people in the UK to use the internet safely.
This co-operation could take out the majority of low-level threats, so to enable organisations like SOCA to concentrate their resources on high-level threats, he said.
According to Andrews, SOCA is working with ICANN and other internet bodies to reduce the risk of criminals being able to act freely and register rogue domains.
"Cyber crime, unlike law enforcement, is not limited by borders, so that is why it is important to harmonise laws internationally to make it easier to take action," he said.
The most capable and damaging criminals are mainly acting out of Eastern Europe, South-East Asia and China, said Andrews.
SOCA is working with authorities in these regions and has established good working relationships with countries such as Georgia and Vietnam, he said.
"We are using the same techniques as the criminals to disrupt their activities," said Andrews.
However, he emphasised that successful law enforcement both at home and abroad is dependent on partnerships not only within law enforcement, but also with the private sector.