Cyber crime sparks need for policing, law strategy

A paper examining Australia's cyber crime policing methods and legislative needs will be presented to the federal government next week to form the basis of a national e-crime strategy.

The strategy, which will be completed later this year, will recommend legislative changes as well as policing techniques following discussions with overseas agencies and consultation with private industry.

A working party on e-crime, which is developing the strategy, was formed following the Australasian and South-West Pacific police commissioners conference held in March this year.

Federal Police commissioner Michael Palmer said the strategy is being developed for the Australian Police Ministers' Council and will contain a range of recommendations and options to improve policing, legislation and other issues related to e-crime.

"It is looking at the legislative needs and the appropriateness of legislation in dealing with a whole range of computer-related criminal activity," Palmer said.

"We will also look at the new skills police require in this area and examine if we can build those skills ourselves or if we should be buying them in from the private sector or wider industry.

"This is where we can improve partnerships between policing and private industry; already we have had a number of discussions with key business leaders."

Palmer said private industry representatives from the US and Australia attended the conference in Canberra including the head of the Commonwealth Bank, David Murray, who spoke to delegates.

"This provides us with a better understanding of the private sector perspective so we can forge positive and productive partnerships that identify the priorities most important to them when dealing with these issues," Palmer said.

Speaking before the senate's legal and constitutional committee in parliament last month, Palmer outlined a range of e-crime initiatives the Australian Federal Police (AFP) is developing.

He said the Australian Centre for Policing Research has been given the specific priority of addressing e-crime and, as part of a $2 million funding boost, additional staff are being appointed to deal with the sophisticated end of cyber-crime investigations.

Presently there are 11 AFP officers working within electronic evidence teams, focusing solely on investigative policing.

"Our capacity to combat electronic crime has increased from four to 11 personnel since 1996, and this is despite the fact that we have had some of our very best people poached by private industry during that time," Palmer said.

Bugs put feds on 24-hour

- By Sandra Van Dijk

Stepping up Australia's emergency cyber-crime capability, federal police agencies have introduced a 24-hour alert to respond to bugs such as the ILoveYou virus and similar attacks that have crippled companies across the globe recently.

Special e-crime teams within the Australian Federal Police (AFP) now have a 24-hour response role with the Interpol network, which provides direct contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). AFP operations manager Mick Keelty said whenever the FBI receives an e-crime problem of significance Australia will be notified to initiate an investigation. "The FBI will advise us of the problem so we can engage in some investigative activity," Keelty said. "In essence, we have a 24-hour response capability to these sorts of viruses and the notification of them."

Keelty said e-crime teams will assess the attack and decide whether any action is warranted in Australia. "Investigating e-crime is not too different from investigating other crimes, except for the method by which the crime is committed; so we try to pair off the expert on e-crime with other investigative members of a team," he said.

At the same time, the AFP is expanding its overseas liaison officer network into more countries and expanding international law enforcement cooperation. A total of $10 million has been made available to expand these programs and to share new and emerging technology with other countries.

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