UK losing fight against cyber crime, claims parliamentary committee

By Danny Palmer
30 Jul 2013 View Comments
Keith Vaz MP

The battle against cyber criminals is being lost due to complacency over the dangers posed by hackers and e-criminals. 

That's the conclusion of the Home Affairs Select Committee's first ever report into e-Crime following a ten month long investigation which saw contributions from experts in both the private and public sectors

Further reading

The e-Crime report recommends that a state-of-the-art "espionage response team" should be founded so that organisations affected by cyber crime can immediately report attacks and enable action to be taken. It also suggests the government needs to be stronger on state-based cyber attacks, dealing with the perpetrating nation if necessary. 

"We note the increasing threat posed by state industrial espionage, and international e-crime committed for political purposes, such as the purported attacks on The Guardian from Syria and attacks from China on the US media. 

"The Government must not underestimate the danger such attacks pose to our infrastructure and take firm action with offending countries to cease their activities, using international forums to raise these issues," read the report. 

The committee also warned about the existence of a cyber crime ‘black hole' which enables cyber criminals to get away with attacks without being reported, particularly in the financial sector where banks typically reimburse victims without seeking justice against the perpetrators. The report suggests that banks must be required to report all levels cyber crime to the authorities.

"We are not winning the war on online criminal activity. We are being too complacent about these E-wars because the victims are hidden in cyberspace. The threat of a cyber attack to the UK is so serious it is marked as a higher threat than a nuclear attack," said the Keith Vaz MP, chair of the e-Crime Committee, adding the UK is the number one target for many cyber criminals.

"You can steal more on the internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target. Astonishingly, some are operating from EU countries.

"If we don't have a 21st century response to this 21st century crime, we will be letting those involved in these gangs off the hook. We need to establish a state of the art espionage response centre. At the moment the law enforcement response to e-criminals is fractured and half of it is not even being put into the new National Crime Agency."

Vaz also praised David Cameron's anti-web porn proposals, suggesting that more government intervention is needed.

"The Prime Minister was right this week to highlight the responsibility of the Internet service providers, search engines and social media sites. They are far too laid back about what takes place on their watch and they need to do more to take inappropriate content down. If they do not act, the Government should legislate," he said.

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