International cooperation essential to tackle e-crime

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie from the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) warned that e-crime is an international problem and has emphasised the importance of working with the international community.

Mar 12, 2009
By Paul Jacques
Chief Constable Andy Marsh

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie from the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) warned that e-crime is an international problem and has emphasised the importance of working with the international community.
Speaking at last month’s 2009 ISPA Parliamentary Advisory Forum on e-crime reduction, she explained that very few crimes were now committed without the use of technology and said that the PCeU would continue to work on investigations of a national impact.
She emphasised that the Internet was a huge area and that the public needed to know that there was some structure there to protect it. She said the PceU and the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC) would work together to create an effective system to gather intelligence, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crime.
The newly-formed e-crime unit is already collecting criminal intelligence reports from eBay in an effort to help stamp out fraud and data theft by criminals targeting the Internet auction site.
eBay is delivering information on fraudulent activity on its site to the PCeU to help the unit prepare investigations and improve intelligence into criminal behaviour.
Det Supt McMurdie said that the NFRC, set to launch later this year, will share similar information with eBay.
“The cases where you have got 50 or 200 victims all having been defrauded, scammed or having their data compromised by the same suspect – that is the sort of case we will be working on,” she explained.
The threat posed by e-crime has been identified as one of the main concerns among Internet users. The PCeU and NFRC will act as a central reporting and investigation hub as part of the National Fraud Strategic Authority (NFSA). 
Last January, Mr Alun Michael MP launched the UK Internet Governance Forum (UK IGF) which gives high priority to promoting best practice in online security, safety, awareness and education initiatives. One of the key aims of the UK IGF is to develop an Internet crime and disorder reduction partnership involving the Government, industry, Parliament and civil society to tackle online crime.
The keynote address at the Forum on e-crime, held in Westminster, was delivered by Parliamentary under-Secretary of State at the Home Office Alan Campbell MP.
He stressed the need to improve the public’s confidence on the Internet and the work being done by the Government’s Get Safe Online initiative to protect against Internet threats and e-crime.
Phil Davies, head of intelligence and investigation at BSkyB, added it was important for companies to work together to share information to reduce fraud and piracy.
BSkyB already has a close working relationship with the Metropolitan Police Service and Mr Davies emphasised: “Industry must warn businesses and the public in a way that is helpful to the consumer and does not cause unnecessary alarm and, where possible, work with others to reduce the threat of online crime.”
Mikko Hypponen, from Internet security specialists F-Secure, explained that the current challenges in e-crime now originated in new areas.
He highlighted the security shift seen in the last 20 years on the Internet – from hackers conducting illegal activity for fun to illegal activity being carried out by organised criminals.
He said there was a need to take away the responsibility of Internet safety from the end-user and to give it to software, hardware and Internet services providers working with authorities to share information and protect the public.
However, there remain concerns about the level of funding for the PCeU.
Tamar Beck, group event director for Infosecurity Europe – the UK’s largest information security event – said: “Late last year, during a debate on Internet fraud, MPs urged the Government to look again at the £7 million initial funding for the PCeU, with Conservative MP Nigel Evans noting that it may not be enough.”
According to Ms Beck, Mr Evans’ comments were echoed by Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake.
However, Mr Campbell, said Ms Beck, has claimed that the PCeU

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