Cybercrime 'bigger threat than nuclear war', UK lawmakers say

Cybercrime 'bigger threat than nuclear war', UK lawmakers say

Summary: Following the lead of the U.S., U.K. lawmakers say that preventing cybercrime is now a top priority.

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Is the threat of cybercrime more of concern than a nuclear bomb? The U.K. government believes so.

The U.K. Home Affairs Committee, a panel dedicated to scrutinizing governmental policy, has released a report which claims the country is failing in efforts to protect businesses and consumers against cybercrime. After a ten-month inquiry, the committee released its report on E-crime, saying that 25 countries have chosen the United Kingdom as a primary target due to the valuable information stored on servers, including bank and financial data.

The report says there is a "black hole" where cybercriminals have free reign to attack targets, and are able to do so due to a lack of active police enforcement. Cybercrimes are often left unreported, and instead of rooting out the problem, banks will often just reimburse customers who may have had their identity or banking details stolen.

As a result, cybercriminals are able to reap large profits with few repercussions, especially if they systematically attack through low-level fraud rather than aim for high-profile targets.

Committee Chair and MP Keith Vaz said:

"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 U.K. is so serious it is marked as a higher threat than a nuclear attack."

This opinion reflects U.S. intelligence chiefs who said in March that cybercrime has replaced terrorism as the "top threat" facing the United States.

The panel says that sentencing guidelines should be reviewed in order to properly punish cybercriminals, and hackers should "receive the same sentences as if they had stolen the same amount of money or data offline."

Vaz commented:

"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."

The committee also approves U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron's recent proposal to place "porn filters" on search engines and block websites that have content deemed "inappropriate," including pornography and terrorism indictment. While many believe the filters are the first step towards online censorship and the U.K.'s very own version of the Great Firewall of China, the report argues:

It is still too easy for people to access inappropriate online content, particularly indecent images of children, terrorism incitement and sites informing people how to commit online crime. There is no excuse for complacency.

The committee urges those responsible to take stronger action to remove such content. The government should draw up a mandatory code of conduct with them to remove material which breaches acceptable standards.

As a result, the MPs are "alarmed" that the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is due to suffer budget cuts of 10 percent over the next four years. If porn-related filters go ahead, cutting away the CEOP's resources may result in inappropriate websites slipping through the net and therefore more children placed at risk.

To try and reinforce these claims, the report uses the murder cases of April Jones and Tia Sharp to suggest there are "terrible consequences" to being able to access child pornography online, and says that the next generation of citizens are being "radicalized" as they can access the preaching of clerics including Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube.

Whether having access to such content prompts action is arguable, but Vaz believes that ISPs, search engine and social media networks are "far too laid back" and failing to censor or take down "inappropriate content." The MP says that if service providers fail to act, the "government should legislate.'

Topics: Security, United Kingdom

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7 comments
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  • It is always easier to ban everything

    than to find and punish the one that actually do evil. Every Government seems to want to ban this, ban that from all citizens rather than actually finding and punishing the guilty. Take guns from everyone, rather then punish those that misuse them and put good mental health practices in place to get the majority that might misuse them the help they need before they do it.
    Easier to punish everyone and claim you are trying to prevent it. The fact of the matter is that those that intend evil will always find what they need, the bans only stop the honest citizen from knowing what to watch out for.
    Putertechn
  • LoLZ!

    Kinda reminds me of V is for vendetta.. We must censor what is inappropriate! lol Now who is going to decide that? The drunken brawl that is Parliament? The disneyworld royalty or that uptight git of a PM? Puhleeze! How about funding on-line education for the people and show them how to set up their own firewalls and filters..
    Nick Zamparello
  • Threat - "You keep using that word."

    "I don't think it means what you think it means".

    This is the worst kind of hyperbole and pandering. It's not isolated to UK politicians either. I posted a blog/podcast about similar statements from US politicians a few months ago. I've since misplaced the audio but the transcript can be found here http://bit.ly/WylRxx.
    Joe Knape
    • Agreed

      Politicians encourage fear in order to manipulate the gullible masses into surrendering their freedom and giving them more power. Hence, there will always be "hyperbole and pandering" until the gullible masses wise up.
      sissy sue
  • The countries.

    Who are 25 countries against the informative system of U.K.? I think it's better fighting attackers than restrict our freedom to navigate in Internet.
    Datalyzer
  • Yes cybercrime is bad but how bad is it really?

    Recently McAfee issued a report that questions (the loss could amount to the equivalent of a "rounding error in 14 trillion dollar world economy") the emphasis on cyber crime. http://www.mcafee.com/uk/resources/reports/rp-economic-impact-cybercrime.pdf?cid=BHP016 It may be that worse things can happen in cyberspace and they won't be done by cyber criminals. What are all those States planning to do with the cyber units they are creating? Now there's some potential for mischief.
    VytautasB@...
  • Yes cybercrime is bad but how bad is it really?

    Recently McAfee issued a report that questions (the loss could amount to the equivalent of a "rounding error in 14 trillion dollar world economy") the emphasis on cyber crime. http://www.mcafee.com/uk/resources/reports/rp-economic-impact-cybercrime.pdf?cid=BHP016 It may be that worse things can happen in cyberspace and they won't be done by cyber criminals. What are all those States planning to do with the cyber units they are creating? Now there's some potential for mischief.
    VytautasB@...