Can New Fraud Squad Beat Cybercriminals?
by Ciara O'Brien
Business & Finance
Cybercrime, while not a new
phenomenon, is becoming an increasing issue for Irish
consumers and businesses.
These days, cybercrime
is a business -- and a global one -- and Irish firms
are increasingly finding themselves targeted by phishing
scams, viruses and other malware as cyber criminals
become more organised.
A report released earlier this
year painted a gloomy picture of how online crime is
affecting businesses. Conducted by the Information Systems
Security Association and UCD, it found that the majority
of Irish firms have been hit in some way by cybercrime,
with 90 percent affected by viruses and other malicious
software and 88 percent hit by misuse of systems. Almost
two-thirds have been the victim of asset theft, while
56 percent have experienced phishing attacks.
attacks had varying financial impacts. More than half
of the companies reported losses of more than EUR25,000
as a result of the cybercrime attacks, while more than
three-quarters of respondents said the incidents had
cost more than EUR5,000 to correct. Some 22 percent
of organisations, meanwhile, were hit with bills in
excess of EUR100,000 as a result of the attacks.
from the financial impact, these incidents resulted
in negative impacts such as loss of productivity, loss
of data, and staff changes as a result of termination
With an increasing number of people
doing business on the web, the increase in cybercrime
is not unexpected. Euromonitor figures indicate that
online shopping in Ireland is growing every year, from
about EUR114 million in 2003 to almost EUR420 million
in 2007. That doesn't take into account the number of
people who use the internet to control their financial
transactions, such as online banking, share dealing
etc, leaving a large market for fraudsters to tap into.
However, a new initiative may help stem the tide of
cybercrime somewhat. The launch of the Irish Fraud Bureau,
an industry-led initiative to tackle financial fraud
in Ireland, in September is hoping to cut such crimes.
According to figures from the newly-formed Irish Fraud
Bureau, reported financial crime is believed to be about
EUR25 million, a figure that is vastly eclipsed by unreported
incidents, which could be as high as EUR155 million.
Cybercrime makes up a proportion of these figures.
While the internet has opened a huge global marketplace
for Irish businesses, it also creates the possibility
for fraud on a large scale, and leaves Irish firms open
to such threats as fraudulent credit card transactions,
identity theft, or theft of financial details such as
online banking passwords.
The IFB allows both consumers
who fear that fraud may have been perpetrated against
them and businesses who discover fraudulent transactions
to take out a protective registration with the bureau.
This means that should anyone apply for a loan or other
financial product, or even try to make a large transaction
on a credit card, for example, a warning will be generated
by the IFB's database alerting the business to seek
further verification before concluding the transaction.
The bureau is not claiming that it will stamp out cybercrime,
but it is hoping to put the brakes on it. "Fraudsters
are always one step ahead of the posse," said chairman
of the IFB James Treacy. "We're trying to make it as
difficult as possible. We're never going to prevent
The IFB is now in talks with the Data
Protection Commissioner, who is concerned about the
sharing of such information between financial institutions.
"It's an ongoing process," explained Treacy.
meantime, there are certain aspects of the Bureau that
can get up and running. The deceased database, which
aims to prevent fraud being perpetrated using the details
of those who have recently died, can be searched by
Treacy warned that deceased fraud, while
not a major problem currently in Ireland, has been a
popular choice for fraudsters in the UK.
loopholes are closed in the UK, fraudsters will move
to Ireland if it's seen as a soft touch," he said.
that happens Irish legislation will need to be beefed
up to tackle cybercrime more effectively. The Government's
strategy up until now has concentrated mainly on illegal
child pornography, but it seems that new legislation
is in the pipeline to tackle cybercrime more effectively.
According to the Department of Justice, phishing is
the most common internet crime, which includes debit
and credit card and is already tackled under the Criminal
Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001. Ireland
has also signed up to the Council of Europe's Convention
on Cybercrime, which aims to foster international co-operation
against cybercrime, including the distribution of child
pornography on the internet, infringements of copyright,
computer-related fraud and violations of network security.
With this in mind, a new Cybercrime Bill is now being
examined by the various government parties, although
a date for submission to the government is not known
at this stage.
In the meantime, the Irish Fraud Bureau is well-placed
to make a positive impact on the growing threat of cybercrime.
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