FBI: Computer intrusion cases double

The number of cybercrimes investigated by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation doubled from 1998 to 1999, but the government agency will need more resources to investigate hack attacks, FBI Director Louis Freeh said this week.

According to the Freeh, the FBI opened 1,154 computer intrusion cases in 1999, up from 547 in 1998. It closed 399 cases in 1998 and 912 in 1999, he said in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee for the Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.

Yet the FBI needs more manpower and updated laws passed to keep up with these crimes, Freeh said.

"The problem of Internet crime has grown at such a rapid pace that the laws have not kept up with the technology," Freeh said in written testimony submitted to the committee.

For example, court orders have to be issued in several states to track down hackers, taking up "valuable time," he said. Administrative orders that can be used to serve one or more service providers to gain evidence would cut down that time, Freeh added.

Additionally, he testified, flexible penalties are needed because the current ones don't take into account a criminal's age, the difficulty in proving financial damages and the potential risk to public confidentiality and safety.

The FBI cyberattack figures include cases of current or former company employees, virus writers and hackers entering the network for thrills or financial gain. Terrorist and criminal organisations are committing more hack attacks for financial gain and propaganda purposes.

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