Leader: Fraud - both a public and private sector problem

But who should lead the fight?

But who should lead the fight?

It seems there are dozens of stories being written at the moment about schemes to protect gullible consumers from the dangers of various fraudsters and scammers.

Much as we like to think the educated and net savvy are immune from the latest attempts - whether online or offline - to fleece those using banks, credit cards and so on, many fall prey to increasingly subtle phishing.

And even if it is only those who are ignorant about such tactics finding themselves worse off, such activity inevitably comes back to bite all of us. Paying for crime always gets spread around.

So no surprise that the government is eager to team up with business for initiatives such as www.getsafeonline.org.uk. Earlier this year saw the launch of the www.itsafe.gov.uk website, albeit a broader computer security attempt.

So who should be taking the lead?

The difficulty is that the public sector, through the agencies for law and order, is in charge of pursuing criminal activity. We can all help and in some cases a private action through civil courts can be equally or more effective. That's the situation facing those owning rights to music and films.

But it is often only generally through a reduction in the tax base and an unhappy electorate that a government will feel affected by some crime.

On the other hand, witness the reaction of a fleeced customer of a bank that has had its name used by a phisher. The individual victim in that case might be angry with the financial system and its regulators, and might be angry with the fact that the web allows such action - and will probably even be angry with themselves that they were taken in. But quite often most fury will be directed at the bank for not doing more.

No - while it is worth there being programmes run by the government, commercial organisations are best placed to cut down on cybercrime. They will feel the most urgency. They are the ones whose bottom lines and reputation are hurt. They have the best resources to stand up to a world of a crime that is increasingly organised, electronic and - dare we say it - business-like.