IT crime threat to expand, says NCIS

Crimes that involve IT are on the rise, according to a UK government organisation.

The London-based National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which is responsible for developing intelligence to combat serious and organised crime, has published its three-year review, Project Trawler. The report looked at crimes including online fraud, cyber-stalking, child sexual abuse facilitated by the Internet, sabotage by employees and trafficking in contraband.

The NCIS expects an increase in computer misuse for political reasons, hacking for financial motives, commercial espionage and employee sabotage incidents. E-mail harassment is also likely to rise. It also expects a rash of millennium viruses that will be triggered by the January 1, 2000 date.

NCIS pointed to a number of examples of political hacking by so called "hactivists", including the 1996 case of a hacker who broke into the British Labor Party site and changed it so that visitors saw the "Labor Party Sex Shop" site instead. The report also highlighted incidences of revenge attacks on Web sites and computer systems by disgruntled and former employees.

In the UK alone, the threat of malicious computer viruses is growing at the rate of 49 per cent per year, the NCIS report showed. Reports of harassment by e-mail are also growing, the organisation said, pointing to a survey of Novell employees, 35 per cent of whom reported receiving unwanted e-mail from a persistent sender. No known criminal cases of cyber-stalking have been prosecuted in the UK to date, however, the report said.

Novell (UK) sponsored Project Trawler.

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