Lavasoft News - July 2007

EU Urges Coordinated Effort Against Cyber Crime

The European Union is stepping up the effort against cyber crime, detailing plans to create more consequential legislation, as well as promoting cooperation between different nations and awareness among consumers.

While the European Union, as well as individual European countries, already have computer crime legislation in place, Europe has recently seen an increased push for more coordinated efforts, in an attempt to keep up with evolving online opportunities for criminals.

The European Commission has called for more meaningful, targeted legislation and law enforcement to keep pace with cyber crime. Cyber crime, according to the commission, can be outlined as fraud, publishing illegal content, or crimes unique to the Internet, like denial-of-service attacks and hacking.

In the end of May, the German Parliament approved tough new anti-hacking legislation, ruling many more categories of hacking as illegal acts that should be punishable like any other crime.

But due to the cross-border nature of cyber crime, countries cannot go it alone.

European Union nations must improve police cooperation across borders in order to tackle child pornography, online credit card fraud and identity theft on the Internet, according to the EU's top justice and interior affairs official.

As the initial step, new legislation could be introduced later this year so that all 27 of the EU nations have standard laws to criminalize identity theft, said Franco Frattini, EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, according to the Associated Press.

The battle against cyber crime in Europe means working through specific obstacles. The EU has cited key problem areas such as lack of coherent EU-level policy and legislation, low consumer awareness, and increased sophistication of criminal activities.

To illustrate the scope of the problem for both consumers and businesses, in its communication on cyber crime the EU referenced that an estimated 750,000 computers are infected through botnets every year in Germany and, according to the UK Financial Service Authority, bank fraud through phasing has increased an estimated 8,000 percent in the last two years.

"Awareness raising, training and research will also be essential in attaining our goals. This policy will be effective only if a strong dialogue with industry is put in place," Frattini said. "It is essential to work closely with member states, relevant EU and international organizations and other stakeholders."

The European Commission plans to hold talks between law enforcement agencies like Europol, national police forces, and Internet companies later this year to organize cooperative efforts, said Frisco Roscam Abbing, Frattini's spokesman, according to the AP.

Due to recent attacks, support for tough security measures to battle so-called "cyber warfare" and cyber terrorism is also likely to grow within EU countries.

Following the large scale distributed denial-of-service cyber attack on Estonia's private and government websites in May, which Estonia claims came as retribution from Russian hackers after a decision to move a Soviet-era statue from a square in Tallinn brought outrage among Russian nationals, concern over the use of the Internet to launch cyber attacks or to propagate organized crime has grown in European capitals.

"We need to prepare for cyber terrorism... and address it in a rapid and much more coordinated way within the EU and NATO," according to Estonian conservative MEP Tunne Kelam, in a recent Business Week article.

The European Commission, however, is urging EU members to utilize existing judicial tools, like the Council of Europe's, a continent-wide human rights organization, 2001 Convention on cyber crime, which provides a framework for cooperation between states.

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Term of the Month
An End User License Agreement, or EULA, is a software license agreement that indicates the terms for an end user to utilize certain software. That fine-print legal jargon that makes you want to check the box next to, "Yes, I have read and accept these terms," without fully reading the text, is an official agreement between you and a software vendor.
Tech Tips
It is important to read all EULAs and privacy statements carefully before installing new software. If the EULA is hard to find or difficult to understand, reconsider installing the software. You should never install software without knowing exactly what it is. By not fully reading the EULA, you may agree to questionable activities by the software vendor, and even to installing spyware and adware on your computer. The Zlob/Smitfraud Trojan (fake codecs most notably) actually DOES include proper disclosure of what will be downloaded to your PC. Take the time to read EULAs carefully!
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