Crime wave builds on Internet

Internet technologies are being used and abused to a greater extent than ever before, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Keith Inman, director electronic enforcement for ASIC, said at the recent Technology for Justice 2000 conference in Melbourne, that new technologies are providing new ways and means to corporate crime.

"Entry barriers to crime have been dropped as [the Internet] is easy to use and it is cheap and anonymous," Inman said.

"The old scams still very much apply to new technology, but there are also new economy scams appearing, equating to an increase in the volume of scams."

"However, most of the scams we see are old scams being applied to the Internet."

Inman said the electronic enforcement task group within ASIC only dealt with eight cases of Internet related crimes in 1998, this rose to 80 last year, and up until the Olympics this year, 120 cases had been opened.

Inman said there has also been an increase in people who have no previous records committing crimes.

The biggest challenge to investigations in this new environment, Inman said, is that Internet time is different. "One day of investigations on the Internet equals one month in traditional environments."

Of late Inman said, he had seen examples of US bulletin board postings, which originated in Australia, containing false statements about a company's stock, coinciding with spam e-mails, also originating from Australia, saying the same thing.

"The messages are being sent out by independent relay servers. Perpetrators are using different Internet service providers (ISPs) in different states of Australia, multiple Internet access providers and multiple phones to dial in on."

Inman said tracing these sorts of crimes can be difficult as small ISPs often don't have their logs turned on, so "how can you trace the crime when you need to start at the content providers, the ISPs, and telecommunications before getting access to the perpetrators' PCs".

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