Business wants tough IT crime law

Business groups are pressing the government to devote more police resources to fighting high-tech crime and to strengthen...

Business groups are pressing the government to devote more police resources to fighting high-tech crime and to strengthen computer crime laws.

Employers groups told an inquiry by an all-party group of MPs last week that the Computer Misuse Act should be updated to strengthen legal protection against denial of service and hacking attacks.

The inquiry, which follows a campaign by Computer Weekly to strengthen the law, is expected to lead to a new cybercrime bill within the next six months.

The Confederation of British Industry said the current law was out of date and legislated for an era when Trojans, worms and denial of service attacks were unknown.

"The Act is narrowly focused on crimes related to unauthorised access to computers and therefore does not recognise the current realities of the threat environment in which companies do business," Jeremy Beale, head of e-business at the CBI told MPs.

BT said that any change in the law would have little impact unless the government devotes more police resources to fighting computer crime.

MP Brian White, said the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was providing a Cinderella service compared to the scale of the problem. More regional forces need to have officers trained to fight computer crime, he said.

Ukerna, which runs the Janet university network, called for the government to close loopholes that meant that some types of denial of service attacks could not be prosecuted. Universities have been hit by 21 denial of service attacks in the past three months.

The Association of Payment Clearing Services called for the government to criminalise the tools and techniques used by hackers to launch phishing attacks against bank customers.

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