By Souhail Karam
RIYADH - Global cyber-crime generated a higher turnover than drug
trafficking in 2004 and is set to grow even further with the wider use
of technology in developing countries, a top expert said on Monday.
No country is immune from cyber-crime, which includes corporate
espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion and
piracy, said Valerie McNiven, who advises the U.S. Treasury on
"Last year was the first year that proceeds from cyber-crime were
greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I
believe, over $105 billion," McNiven told Reuters.
"Cyber-crime is moving at such a high speed that law enforcement
cannot catch up with it."
For example, Web sites used by fraudsters for "phishing"=97the practice
of tricking computer users into revealing their bank details and other
personal data=97only stayed on the Internet for a maximum of 48 hours,
Asked if there was evidence of links between the funding of terrorism
and cyber-crime, McNiven said: "There is evidence of links between
them. But what's more important is our refusal or failure to create
secure systems, we can do it but it's an issue of costs."
McNiven, a former e-finance and e-security specialist for the World
Bank, was speaking in Riyadh on the sidelines of a conference on
information security in the banking sector.
Developing countries which lack the virtual financial systems
available elsewhere are easier prey for cyber-crime perpetrators, who
are often idle youths looking for quick gain.
"When you have identity thefts or corruption and manipulation of
information there (developing countries), it becomes almost more
important because ... their systems start getting compromised from the
get-go," she said.
"Another area that begins to expand is human trafficking and
pornography because both of these become so much available once you
have a communication ability," McNiven said.
Copyright Reuters 2005
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