Experts say global cooperation key to fighting cybercrime

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International cooperation among law enforcement agencies is key to taking the allure from cybercrime, a panel of experts said today at a Kaspersky Lab-sponsored breakfast in New York.

Individuals considering performing criminal acts on the internet, such as extortion, phishing and fraud, are now enticed by a low-risk, high-reward scenario, said James Andrew Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It’s a low-risk crime," he said at the event, "Surviving Cybercrime: What Lies Ahead." "Odds are you won’t be caught. This is the new area of opportunity for criminals."

Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Lab and the company’s head of anti-virus research, said about 100 people were charged with cybercrimes last year, compared to roughly 400 a year prior.

Lewis said several factors allow cybercriminals to remain elusive, including the anonymity lent by the internet, underreporting by victims, the advent of remote attacks and the complexities of investigating crimes across borders.

The latter factor is particularly troublesome, Lewis said. Investigating agencies such as the FBI have no jurisdiction in other countries unless they first receive approval, which is often hard to get.

"The big problem is political," Lewis said. "To deal with the problem of cybercrime, you need different countries to cooperate."

Several measures have improved the state of enforcement, notably the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, an international treaty consisting of 43 signatories and 15 parties that is designed to standardize laws, Lewis said. Also helping matters is the G8 high-tech crime network, made up of officials from 45 countries who provide real-time assistance to investigators.

Still, increased cooperation and participation is necessary, Lewis said, adding that he worries no real changes will take effect until "you get some big, dramatic crime."

Kaspersky said a global police force might be the answer.

"I dream about the internet Interpol (that) investigates cases the same day they get it," Kaspersky said.

Eileen Harrington, deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said government cannot solve the problem alone, especially in light of cultural differences among law enforcement agencies in the United States and around the world.

"The private sector has a huge role to play here," she said, adding the burden is on vendors to develop technology and conduct research aimed at stopping criminals.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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