TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cybercrime Yeilds More Cash Than Drugs

Cybercrime Yeilds More Cash Than Drugs

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Mon, 28 Nov 2005 20:49:40 -0600

By Souhail Karam

Global cybercrime generated a higher turnover than drug trafficking in
2004 and is set to grow even further with the wider use of technology
in developing countries, a top expert said on Monday.

No country is immune from cybercrime, which includes corporate
espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion and
piracy, said Valerie McNiven, who advises the U.S. Treasury on

"Last year was the first year that proceeds from cybercrime were
greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I
believe, over $105 billion," McNiven told Reuters.

"Cybercrime is moving at such a high speed that law enforcement cannot
catch up with it."

For example, Web sites used by fraudsters for "phishing" -- the
practice of tricking computer users into revealing their bank details
and other personal data -- only stayed on the Internet for a maximum
of 48 hours, she said.

Asked if there was evidence of links between the funding of terrorism
and cybercrime, McNiven said: "There is evidence of links between
them. But what's more important is our refusal or failure to create
secure systems, we can do it but it's an issue of costs."

McNiven, a former e-finance and e-security specialist for the World
Bank, was speaking in Riyadh on the sidelines of a conference on
information security in the banking sector.

Developing countries which lack the virtual financial systems
available elsewhere are easier prey for cybercrime perpetrators, who
are often idle youths looking for quick gain.

"When you have identity thefts or corruption and manipulation of
information there (developing countries), it becomes almost more
important because ... their systems start getting compromised from
the get-go," she said.

"Another area that begins to expand is human trafficking and
pornography because both of these become so much available once you
have a communication ability," McNiven said.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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