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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Interpol patrols the web
Love bug suspects
The Phlippines had no laws to charge Love Bug suspects
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward

Interpol is considering setting up an international intelligence network to help companies and governments cope with the rising tide of cybercrime.

The international police organisation already collects and distributes information about cross-border crime such as art thefts and is now expanding this to include cybercrime.

Interpol is working with an internet consultancy Atomic Tangerine to set up the network that will pass on information about online criminal activities.

The network should be in place by October.

Atomic Tangerine is an offshoot of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), a Californian think-tank that has done some of the pioneering research on computers.

Seeds of help

SRI looks after a huge library of information about computer security.

For decades, it has acted as host for closed-door conferences for companies where they can reveal if they have been targeted by hackers.

If we waited until the laws were adopted we would wait a long, long time.

Raymond Kendall, Interpol
The first six months of the year have seen a rash of computer crimes committed.

In February, popular websites such as Yahoo and Amazon were briefly shut down when they were hit with a flood of bogus messages.

In May, companies around the world were hit by the ILOVEYOU virus. Since then, many companies have been caught out by viruses that copied the Love Bug.

Some companies have had their websites hijacked and ownership of the domain temporarily transferred to someone else.

Destructive viruses

Raymond Kendall, general secretary of Interpol, said both governments and companies were in danger of being overwhelmed by cybercrime unless they acted in concert.

He said many of the 178 member nations of Interpol were starting to draw up legislation to outlaw cybercrime but businesses and governments now needed help.

"If we waited until the laws were adopted, we would wait a long, long time," said Mr Kendall, "Unless we have the courage to step outside the usual run of the mill responses we will not achieve anything."

Less than 15 of the Interpol member nations currently have laws in place that criminalise malicious hacking or the spreading of destructive viruses.

Although the writers of the Love Bug virus were arrested in the Philippines the country had no laws under which to charge them.

Network news

This week Onel De Guzman, suspected of writing the ILOVEYOU virus was formally charged. He was indicted under credit card theft laws.

The Philippines has now adopted laws making it illegal to do damage with viruses and malicious hacking.

Raymond Kendall
Kendall: We're all struggling to keep up with cybercrime
Mr Kendall pointed out that negotiations are at an early stage and both Interpol and Atomic Tangerine had yet to work out the details of the intelligence gathering network.

Once operational, the network will keep companies, law enforcement agencies and governments informed about cybercrimes and who is becoming a target for malicious hackers.

Information will be collected from everyone that signs up and will be funnelled through Interpol.

Denial of service

"Not because we need to identify the companies, but because we are interested in the modus operandi of the criminals and the incidence of what is happening," said Mr Kendall.

The initiative has grown out of the work that the SRI, parent of Atomic Tangerine, has done on software that automatically watches the web for information about impending attacks.

The SRI system, which goes by the name of Net Radar, scours the web for information about which companies or technologies are being targeted, which backdoors in software are becoming popular and which tricks are becoming fashionable among hackers.

In the past, the Net Radar system has passed on warnings about Pakistani ISPs which were being targeted by hackers looking to launch distributed denial of service attacks.

In such attacks, hackers hide programs on machines dotted around the web which, at a pre-arranged moment, start flooding a target with bogus requests for information.

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See also:

07 Jan 00 | Americas
Police seek key to cyber-crime
08 Apr 00 | Americas
US struggles with cyber-crime
11 May 00 | Americas
Tackling cyber crime
08 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Hunting e-criminals
29 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Love Bug suspect to be charged
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