Feeds

MPs urged to reform cybercrime laws

Pre-Internet legislation inadequate

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

UK computer crime law needs a root and branch reform to bring it into the Internet age.

MPs holding a public inquiry to see if Britain’s key computer crime law - the Computer Misuse Act 1990 - were told the law had served us well but now needed to be updated. Industry representatives appearing before an All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) hearing on subject yesterday were split on whether significant amendments to existing laws or fresh legislation on computer crime was needed.

APIG hopes its inquiry will put pressure on the Home Office to introduce a new cybercrime bill in the next six months. According to the Home Office, there were just 14 convictions under the CMA in 2002, the last year for which statistics were available.

Representatives from BT and the banking industry calls for amendments in the law to specifically outlaw DDoS attacks. The UK courts have dealt with cases of DDoS attacks but this remains a legal grey area. Experts from the British Computer Society and others told MPs that more fundamental changes were needed to a computer crime law drafted years before the widespread adoption of the Internet.

Several witnesses said the police were under-resourced for tackling computer crime law while others complained about difficulties in getting help from their ISPs when attacks occur. Experiences in this department were mixed.

Edward Andrewes, committee member at the Association of Remote Gaming Operators, said that since January the gambling industry had lost "millions of pounds" through DDoS attacks against online gambling websites. "We know who they are but there have been no prosecutions. We don't know why."

"The ISP industry provides a minimum cost product and it's not as secure as it should be," he added.

Colin Whittaker, head of security at banking orgainsation APACS, defended ISPs by saying it had a "good response" from them in tracking phishing scams. "We should understand they have a difficulty getting information from overseas ISPs," he said.

Some ISPs already use mechanisms outside the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) to deal with computer crime.

Tom Mullen, manager of detective operations at BT, said it often preferred to use section the Telecoms Act rather than the CMA in dealing with hackers. "We use S42 of the Telecoms Act instead of the CMA because it is easier. Police come around and offenders get a caution and lose kit. It's a good deterrent. Losses to most computer crimes are not high so it doesn't justify police resource to prosecute under the CMA," he said.

APIG intends to publish a report of its inquiry in June. ®

Related stories

Hackers cost UK.biz billions
E-crime costs UK business billions
MPs hold inquiry into UK computer crime law
MPs' spam report due out Monday
UK.gov to impose data retention dragnet on ISPs

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.