Cybercrime toll threatens new financial crisis

Cybercrime toll threatens new financial crisis

International regulation must be improved to avoid internet crime causing global catastrophe, some of the world’s top crime experts have warned.

Damage caused by cybercrime is estimated at $100 billion annually, said Kilian Strauss, of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

“These criminals, they outsmart us 10, or a hundred to one,” said Strauss.

Such online criminal organisations operate in a regulatory vacuum, committing crimes such as espionage, money laundering, and theft of personal information, experts told the European Economic Crime conference in Frankfurt.

“We need multilateral understanding, account and oversight to avoid, in the years to come, a cyber crisis equivalent to the current financial crisis,” said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Growing sophistication

The conference also heard warnings that internet crime is a threat to national security. After apparently politically motivated cyber attacks on Georgia and Estonia, foreign policy chiefs are concerned cybercriminals can now wield power on the international stage.

Calls for greater government oversight of the internet come at a time when strengthened regulation is more attractive than ever to policymakers who once preferred more laissez-faire strategies.

As well as financial watchdogs getting more powerful as the global economic crisis continues, regulators in areas outside finance are expected to get more powerful too.

The president of Interpol, Khoo Boon Hui, said tech-savvy gangs from China, India, Eastern Europe and Africa were coming up with ever more sophisticated ways of swindling money from vulnerable people.

The developing world is seen as one of the most important fronts for tougher oversight. As poor countries become more technologically connected, they become an ever-richer source of computers to hijack and cheap cybercrime labour.

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