Trust us, says Interpol IS chief

Calling on business to "beef up the world's IT armoury against terrorism", Interpol information systems director Peter Nevitt said the private sector needs to replace its cynicism toward government with trust.

Lack of trust is preventing the development strategy between private enterprise and law enforcement to battle cyber attacks, Nevitt told IT executives at the CIO 2002 conference in Sydney last week.

"Our security aims became bigger and our priorities changed on that fateful day, September 11. The events of this day revealed an absolute truth - that the private and public sectors were the first victims of this new type of war," Nevitt said.

"But the quest is a lost cause because of suspicion by businesses that a partnership of this kind would somehow be used against them."

While supporting a global central information system with uniform reporting procedures for cybercrime, Nevitt said this goal appears "hopeless".

"Ultimately I envisage an IT operations and regulatory level featuring a [unified] system where law enforcement agencies feed into an international database to accurately detect new and imminent threats, and develop this system in partnership with the private sector," he said.

The quality of agencies' response to different security threats will depend on the quality of information on those threats, which Nevitt said would always be flawed by the fact that most victims withheld information on security threats due to embarrassment. "No-one wants to reveal they've been hacked," he said.

"Businesses must play a part in creating safe conditions we work and play in."

He said the prospect of unconventional war has escalated due to events like the break up of the Soviet Union and new crime organisations have exploded across the Eastern Bloc creating illegal [money] movement in the business sector.

2001 Computer Crime Survey by the FBI Intrusion Squad:

- 85 per cent of security breaches detected in the last 12 months.

- 64 per cent of organisations involved in those breaches suffered financial loss.

- Reported losses totalled $US378 million.

- Most serious loss was theft of proprietary information.

- Weakest point for hackers: Internet connection - 70 per cent; Internal system - 30 per cent.

- 19 million people capable of malicious hacking.

- 1.3 million worldwide have advanced knowledge of global telecommunications structure.

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