Thought for the day:Support the e-police

Businesses are storing up trouble by failing to notify the police of e-crime, says Simon Moores.

Businesses are storing up trouble by failing to notify the police of e-crime, says Simon Moores.

You may have read on that the police found very little support from businesses in their investigation of Simon Vallor, the Web designer who pleaded guilty to spreading the very unpleasant Gokar virus, which wreaked expensive havoc last year.

The problem is that business in general doesn't yet consider e-crime as something that demands police involvement or investigation. The last thing that most companies want is a blue-and-white police "cordon sanitaire" around their building and to give up the time consumed in collecting evidence and making statements to detectives.

And that's where business is mistaken.

Several years ago, I had reason to call in the police when one of the user groups I was moderating on a private server attracted an unpleasant visitor, who insisted in posting sexually offensive comments in the chat sessions.

In a sympathetic and highly professional operation, which also involved BT, the source was tracked to one of the systems at Kensington Town Hall and, while the person was online one day, a police car sped to the building. Sadly, the line dropped minutes after they arrived and the technology available at the time made it impossible to identify clearly the personal computer involved, even though we could link a user name to a department in the same building. However, the problem ceased from that day.

I urge any business to notify the NHTCU if an e-incident causes significant business interruption or loss. There are two good reasons for this. The first is that statistically, it gives everyone a better idea of the size of the problem and the second is that a handful of successful prosecutions may act as a deterrent.

From my own experience, you shouldn't expect a visit from uniformed officers wearing heavy boots and you should expect confidentiality and professionalism in line with the police's operational charter.

The police aren't able to defeat e-crime on their own. Like blackmail or extortion, e-crime of any kind demands the co-operation of the victim. The alternative is a bleak future of constant patching and recovery and more and more of the IT budget being consumed in endless attempts to protect the organisation from pests who might, in different circumstances, be vacationing at Her Majesty's pleasure.

What's your view?
Would you tell the police about hi-tech crime? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Zentelligence Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of the futurist writer, broadcaster and Computer Weekly columnist Simon Moores.

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