Feeds

MPs (finally) debate cybercrime

Steep learning curve

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

MPs finally got around to a rare debate on cybercrime earlier this week.

The debate - held on Wednesday morning, hours after Barack Obama's historic US presidential victory - was characterised by much mutual backslapping and many members of parliament praising each other for simply turning up. There are a few nuggets of good ideas on there but the quality of discussion compares unfavourably to House of Lords select committee hearings on cybercrime, which had the benefit of bringing in testimony from cybercrime experts.

The MPs began the debate with a hapless discussion about advanced fee frauds. The mechanics of 419 frauds are well known to Reg readers but seem to be almost as much as mystery to MPs as the geography of Africa is to former Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin.

The quality of the discussion improved when the politicians discussed the perils of buying medications from online pharmacy sites and how phishing can affect confidence in e-commerce. Additionally, the point made by Labour MP David Taylor about the lack of hard data about the scale of cybercrimes touches on a hot-button issue.

The debate, convened by independent MP and hospital campaigner Dr Richard Taylor, touches on the need for a general education campaign on cybercrime. The problems of eBay auction fraud and the establishment of a eCrime Unit were also discussed.

At times the transcript of the debate reads like a comedy spoof. References are made to comments by the the Duke of Buckingham in the 1600s and Pinocchio.

Admittedly there might be something to be learned from the scam in Pinocchio where lazy boys are turned into donkeys, but the overall quality of the discussion in the main chamber makes one think that discussions about technical subjects, such as cybercrime, are better held in select committees where experts can be called upon to inform the discussion.

The discussion did not end with a clear idea of whether there would be any kind of follow-up action. Lawmaking, since the debate was convened at a quiet time and by an independent MP, was never on the agenda.

However, junior Home Office minister Alan Campbell did say that the government had allocated £29m over three years to implement the national fraud programme, which includes the establishment of a national fraud reporting centre. The minister quoted ACPO (police) figures that fraud costs £13.9bn per annum, a huge figure (25 times the losses attributable to credit card fraud alone - £535.2m) that puts the spending on fraud prevention in perspective.

We ran the transcript of the debate past Andrew Goodwill, director of credit card fraud prevention specialist the 3rd Man, who spends his working days fighting cybercrime. After agreeing that the debate was hardly elevated ("to think we pay these people") Goodwill supported an idea by MPs to have a cybercrime awareness week for the seven days from 5 January 2009.

"The week should be called 'lets crack cybercrime in 2009' or don`t be a cybercrime victim in 2009 and highlight a crime theme each day," Goodwill suggested. "I'm of the firm belief that the internet is becoming safer, and it will become more safe as more people are aware of their vulnerability. etailers, banks and consumers have taken a while to understand their vulnerabilities, and it has been a sharp learning curve, but we are now starting to see results. The 3rd Man, for example, has detected £500m worth of credit card crime alone this year. We have achieved this by understanding the etailers' vulnerabilities," he added. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.