Cyber crime in the UK costs the economy around �27bn a year

Stronger cyber laws needed to fight hackers

A stronger international legal framework is needed to fight cyber crime, a security official has said.

Governments and companies must work much more closely together to fight the "scammers, fraudsters and hackers" creating the global problem, said James Brokenshire, Home Office Minister for Crime and Security.

"Active international partnerships are central to tackling cyber crime," he said.

"There needs to be an international response including international treaties, bilateral treaties and common agreements between countries."

He was speaking at the launch of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA), a global not-for-profit organisation that aims to channel funding, expertise and help directly to law enforcement cyber crime units around the world.

A priority for governments is to find ways to track down criminals across borders and ensuring they are punished, but many nations lack a common definition of cyber crime or common legal standards that would enable prosecutions of criminals operating offshore.

Security experts have  said the core problem has been that nations are thinking too parochially about their online security to collaborate on forming global cyber regulation.

High-profile online assaults in recent weeks have targeted the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Senate, and companies such as Citigroup and Lockheed Martin.

The raids have raised doubts about the security of government and corporate computer systems and the ability of law enforcement to track down hackers.

Saying there should be "no safe haven" for online criminals, Brokenshire added that governments had to work with the private sector to provide technical expertise to police in those countries that lacked the resources to fight cyber criminals.

ICSPA, which will seek funding from the European Union, governments of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, and private sector companies, plans to work in partnership with European police agency EUROPOL.

ICSPA is concerned with Brazil, which has expertise in banking malware; China, where computers are often used by criminals elsewhere to host attacks in third countries; and Russia and Ukraine, said Rik Ferguson, director of Security Research at Trend Micro.

Companies supporting the venture include McAfee, Cassidian, Trend Micro, Yodel, Core Security Technologies, Visa Europe, Shop Direct, A&REdelman, Transactis and Article10.

Cyber crime costs the British economy some £27bn a year and appears to be "endemic", according to the first official government estimate of the issue published in February.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also said last week that cyber criminals were outwitting national and international legal systems that fail to embrace technological advances.

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