Cyber attacks to be debated by Council of Europe

1st April 2008, Comments 0 comments

Experts from around the world will meet in Europe this week to discuss how governments should counter attacks aimed at crippling the Internet and hitting users with data loss, identity theft and fraud.

1 April 2008

BRUSSELS - Cybercrime experts from around the world will meet in Europe this week to discuss how governments should counter attacks aimed at crippling the Internet and hitting users with data loss, identity theft and fraud.

The European Union's anti-terrorism has voiced concerns about cyber attacks and said the bloc was working on new laws addressing the increasingly common phenomenon.

"Cybercrime terrorism is a source of concern. We know how much we're dependent of the Web for everything," said Gilles de Kerchove, who coordinates anti-terror efforts for the EU's 27 countries.

"Shutting down the net can really amplify a terror attack," he told a European Parliament panel.

A conference by the Council of Europe - a pan-European body concerned with human rights and the rule of law - will review the implementation of the Convention on Cybercrime, the only legally binding international treaty to address online crime.

The conference in France on Tuesday and Wednesday also will discuss new guidelines for cooperation between police and investigators and Internet service providers in the fight against crime in cyberspace.

Separately, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's summit in Romania beginning Wednesday will debate NATO's own guidelines for coordinating national cyber defence efforts.

The Council of Europe convention - which helps protect computer users against hackers and Internet fraud - has been signed by 43 countries, mostly from Europe but also including the United States, Japan and Canada. The convention also covers offences involving electronic evidence such as child sexual exploitation, organised crime and terrorism.

As the Internet becomes an essential part of daily life across the world, experts from police forces, as well as technology companies Microsoft Corp. and eBay, Inc., will debate possible legal solutions to cyber-related crime and training possibilities at the Council of Europe workshop in Strasbourg, France.

The challenges posed by cybercrime are different from conventional terror attacks because of the fast exchange of data and the vast international reach of computers, said Marco Gercke, a lecturer in computer law at University of Cologne in Germany.

"Compared to regular terror attacks, it is much easier for the offenders to hide their identity. There are at least 10 unique challenges that make it very difficult to fight computer-related crime," said Gercke, one of the conference participants.

"The success rate of cybercrime is very high," he added.

[Copyright AP 2008]

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