Feds Debut Site to Fight Computer Crime

In the wake of last month's hack attacks on Yahoo, E-Trade, and other leading Web sites, the Department of Justice has unveiled a new public information site designed to take on Internet crime.

The new site, www.cybercrime.gov, is sponsored by the department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the 18-member legal team that coordinates the government's prosecution of computer criminals. The site displays reports, testimony, and links to other sites, such as a department-sponsored "Internet Do's and Don't's" page aimed at children who use the Web. "Law enforcement wants to work with the public and industry to fight computer crime," said CCIPS chief Martha Stansell-Gamm in a statement.

"Being connected to the Web also facilitates our work with law enforcement agencies all over the world." But industry hasn't been quite so eager to cooperate with the government. After denial-of-service attacks paralyzed sites such as eBay and Amazon last month, President Clinton convened a high-profile White House summit on the issue.

A proposal for a computer crime coordination center was floated, and then hastily quashed by industry, which prefers to share information privately rather than with government. Ironically, the government has been criticized in recent weeks for failing to sufficiently anticipate the denial-of-service threat. The Justice Department declined to comment on their ongoing investigations. CCIPS attorney David Goldstone acknowledged the industry's reticence, and he noted the misperception by the private sector that the government doesn't have the chops to chase Internet criminals. Goldstone said the site demonstrates the government's "ample prosecutorial experience," adding that, hopefully, industry cooperation will now be more forthcoming.

The site gives information on how to report various Internet crimes, from password trafficking to Internet bomb threats. In testimony before a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee last month, Attorney General Janet Reno said that mushrooming computer crime is stretching the Justice Department's resources thin. Reno said that increased funding was needed to avoid, among other things, layoffs in CCIPS.

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