SOCA: Beware the IT mafia

Infosecurity 2006: Highly educated organised criminals are infiltrating British businesses, according to the UK's new crime agency

Employees are still one of the greatest threats to corporate security as "new-age" mafia gangs infiltrate companies, the UK's crime-fighting agency has said.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Infosecurity 2006 conference in London, Tony Neate, e-crime liaison for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), said insider "plants" are causing significant damage to companies.

He said: "We have fraud and ID theft but one of the big threats still comes from the trusted insiders. That is people inside the company who are attacking the systems.

"[Organised crime] has changed. You still have traditional organised crime but now they have learned to compromise employees and contractors. [They are] new-age, maybe have computer degrees and are enterprising themselves. They have a wide circle of associates and new structures."

Neate's comments are some of the first from the new agency, which so far has tended to shy away from press attention.

SOCA was formed earlier this month, combining the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and experts from HM Revenue & Customs and the UK Immigration Service.

The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, which previously dealt with Internet crime in the UK, has also been rolled into SOCA.

The new agency is chaired by former MI5 director general Sir Stephen Lander, and will have a budget of more than £400m and around 4,200 staff.

According to SOCA's annual plan, around 40 percent of its efforts will be directed towards combating drugs trafficking; 25 percent towards organised immigration crime; and 10 percent towards individual and private sector fraud, including identity fraud and electronic fraud from internet banking and ecommerce.

The cost of organised crime to the UK is estimated at around £20bn per year — more than £300 for every person in the country.