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Cracking e-Crime

12 September 2012

Cracking e-Crime

More cooperation amongst public and private organisations is needed to help reduce growing levels of e-Crime, a major University study has concluded.

e-Crime is criminal activity where a computer or computer network is the source, tool, target, or place of a crime. e-Crime can include traditional crimes - such as fraud, theft, blackmail, forgery and embezzlement.

e-Crime is notoriously difficult to detect and punish because of its sheer technical complexity and because unseen attackers can strike victims from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Funded by the Nominet Trust, Professor Mike Levi and Dr Matthew Williams from Cardiff School of Social Sciences surveyed over fifty per cent of the UK Information Assurance Community to identify additional measures are needed to address the impact of e-Crime.

Professor Levi said: "Some estimates of e-Crime have been rejected as scaremongering but discounting that, even at the conservative end the cost is more than household and street crime. There is little doubt that it is the crime of the future for those who can work out a way of turning identity 'borrowing' and other distressing covert invasions of privacy into money."

Their research found that most organisations reported having ‘some cooperation’, with finance, academics and the police reporting the highest levels.

Those reporting least cooperation included local government and non-finance and non-IT companies, where rated their quality of cooperation as ‘quite good’.

Dr Williams adds: "The perceived barriers to cooperation included a lack of lead from government, a confusion and overlap of e-Crime reduction responsibilities between organisations, and a lack of reliable e-Crimes data.

"Older methods of crime reporting and investigation are too slow and unreliable, and the report highlights the need to manage the problem by individual and business advice - as is now emerging in policy - where police focus where the harm is particularly severe and where it can make a difference to victims and general levels of e-Crime".

About half of the organisations surveyed reported more cooperation within the UK would help reduce the e-Crime problem. Fewer than one in ten thought more legislation would help.  A third wanted more arrests and prosecutions and a more effective criminal justice response.

In line with the UK Government’s Cyber Security Strategy the authors recommend the creation of e-Crime reduction partnerships initiated by government which draw members from central and local government, the private sector - both large and small, academia, law enforcement, parliament, the voluntary sector, regulatory groups and civil society.

The Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, who initiated the research, said: "This report provides carefully

argued evidence about the potential for action in partnership that we have sought for so long. It develops the evidence base to the point that Ministers have been searching for over a number of years."

Related links:

Cardiff School of Social Sciences

Nominet Trust

Rt Hon Alun Michael MP