Phishing, viruses and internet espionage is booming. And business leaders, security experts and law enforcement gathering Thursday and Friday in London aim to change that.
Internet scams such as phishing are costing banks and consumers billions
It has been quite a year for e-crime, say experts. Trojan horses have constantly bombarded banks and others in the financial sector. Phishing and identity theft attempts have risen to number about 8 million per day, according to security officials. E-scams are costing businesses billions and that doesn't include increasing funds - about 20 to 50 percent of total expenditures in the US and UK - to beef up security.
And it is only getting worse.
As a result, law enforcement, business and computer specialists have come together for the annual e-Crime Congress in London Thursday and Friday to find new methods to fight such cyber predators.
An illustrious group
Because it is such a growing problem internationally, the conference is attracting bigger names and from further afield, too.
Microsoft's Brad Smith offered a reward of $5 million to those who help catch cyber criminals
Attendees include about 500 officials from governments, companies as Amazon, eBay, Skype and Yahoo, bankers from Scandinavia, the UK and the Middle East and law enforcement such as the FBI, Scotland Yard and those from the China.
"The 2005 e-Crime Congress provided an excellent forum for us to interact with law enforcement agencies, security product vendors and others in the financial services industry to discuss the wider issues that affect us," one British bank security official as quoted on the congress' website.
E-crime remains a low priority
E-crime, like white-collar crime, is low on the list of law enforcement priorities, experts say. Instead, police and intelligence agencies worldwide are busy grappling with violent crimes and terrorism.
Internet cafes in countries with few cyber or extradition laws are often used by cyber gangs
In most countries, police officials are overworked and lack manpower and often expertise to investigate e-crime. Few prosecutors take on such cases and laws often lack teeth, experts say.
That lessens the already low deterrant power of law enforcement against cyber criminals, who already have very low odds of getting caught, especially if they are outside the US or Europe.
"We are all fighting the same fires," one Airbus UK official told organizers. "We in the security business need to work together in order to improve the situation."