By Mark Sutton
Gartner Group reports that despite the fact that most computer-related crime goes undetected and unpunished, spending on cyber law enforcement is unlikley to increase in the next three years.
Law enforcement efforts on Internet crime are so poor that the vast majority of cybercrimes go undetected and unpunished, according to Gartner Group. A recent Gartner workshop on Crime on the Internet found that very few governments were putting any funding into combating Internet crime — a situation that criminals are all too ready to take advantage of.“[Bank robber] Willie Sutton said that he robbed banks ‘because that’s where the money is’,” said Richard Hunter, Gartner vice president. “Today’s Internet criminals don’t have to rob banks — with currently available technology, they can just as easily rob tens of thousands of individuals, with less chance of being detected.”Gartner research showed that in the US, just $10 million of a total federal law enforcement budget of $17 billion, or less than 0.1% of law enforcement spending is spent on training and support for computer-related crime. There are only 300 dedicated federal cybercrime investigators out of 600,000 law enforcement agents in the country. Spending is not expected to increase to anything more than 1% of the law-enforcement budget until 2004, despite a predicted rise in the economic value of Internet crime of 1,000% over the same time period.The workshop also discussed different models of cybercrime, ranging from corporate espionage to fraudulent insurance schemes. So far credit cards have been one of the biggest target markets for online crime. A recent scheme involved criminals fraudulently billing over 3 million credit card holders, supposedly for purchasing pornography over the Internet. The gang netted at least $30 million through the crime.Hackers in December broke into online computer retailer egghead.com's customer database. The company refused to reveal whether credit card details of 3.7 million customers had been taken, but they did inform credit card companies who cancelled cards and began monitoring of suspected stoled numbers, reported CNET. So far no theft from the cards has been reported, but the damage to egghead.com's reputation has been done.“People and businesses on the Internet must be responsible for their own electronic security, just as they are now largely responsible for the security of their own homes,” Richard Hunter said. “The safeguards are few at this early stage of trying to track crime on the Internet, and many crimes will go unpunished during the next three years.”