http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1282000/1282816.stm A specialist police unit designed to tackle computer-based crime is being launched by the Home Secretary Jack Straw on Wednesday. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHCTU) will be responsible for tracking down the growing range of criminals who operate in cyberspace. They include organised criminal gangs who use computers to commit fraud, paedophiles who exchange obscene images on the net, and hackers who wreak havoc by writing computer viruses which can disable systems worldwide. The unit will initially employ 40 specially-trained officers who will operate from a secret location in London. Netting criminals Mr Straw said: "New technologies bring enormous benefits to the legitimate user, but also offer opportunities for criminals, from those involved in financial fraud to paedophiles. "We are determined that the UK will be the best and safest place in the world to conduct and engage in e-commerce, and that our children receive the full protection they deserve online so they can surf the net in safety." As the unit expands, every constabulary in the UK is expected to be given at least one "cyber cop" to tackle internet crime in its area. Computer crimes are becoming more and more sophisticated The £25m unit will draw its staff from individual police forces, Customs, the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). The squad is expected to deploy undercover officers in internet chat rooms in an effort to trap paedophiles. But civil liberties groups are worried about the extent of the unit's powers. They believe the police will also be able to intercept private e-mails of innocent people without proper authority. But the unit's Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds told BBC News: "We have no inclination, nor the desire, nor the ability to trawl people's e-mails. "We will be targeting those people who use the internet to commit fraud, paedophilia and other offences." Rising crime Cybercrime is now seen as one of the fastest growing criminal activities. More than 60% of Britain's online businesses have been the victims of hacking, according to estimates. Director general of the National Crime Squad, Bill Hughes, said: "Looking to the future the equation is simple - money is going electronic and where money goes so will organised crime. "As we have learnt from our colleagues in the USA, the only way to tackle this type of crime is by using a joined-up approach." Other internet crimes are aimed at causing maximum disruption. Last May a computer virus called the Love Bug was released by a lone computer user in the Philippines. The virus spread by e-mail to affect hundreds of thousands of businesses and personal computers across the world. The US Government was among those hit. Companies fight back In January some of the biggest names in the global computer industry joined forces to combat the rising tide of cybercrime. Companies which include IBM, Intel, AT&T, Microsoft set up a worldwide early warning system to share information about vulnerabilities in software and data, the activities of malicious hackers and people planning computer crimes. The alliance, which also includes the FBI and US Government, plans to set up a series of centres around the world to collate information and distribute it to members. ISN is hosted by SecurityFocus.com --- To unsubscribe email LISTSERVat_private with a message body of "SIGNOFF ISN".
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Thu Apr 19 2001 - 01:58:55 PDT