How international cyber crime threatens national security

As the Internet becomes a favorite tool of international criminals, cyber crime perpetrated by organized crime networks has become a real threat to national and international security, according to a recently released National Security Council report.

The report focused on the growing threat of what it calls transnational organized crime, which it says represents a, “significant threat to financial and trust systems,” costing billions of dollars annually. A key reason for the increase of these crimes is the growing use of IT systems and the Internet.

“Computers and the Internet play a role in most transnational crimes today, either as the target or the weapon used in the crime,” the NSC report states. As a result, cyber crime is “a substantially more important concern,” for the U.S. government.

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The U.S. Secret Service found that online financial crimes resulted in “billions of dollars in losses to the nation’s financial infrastructure,” the report states. Central European cyber crime networks have been responsible for U.S. citizens losing approximately $1 billion.

The report also says the extent of the cyber crimes is potentially destabilizing to not only the United States but also the world’s economy.

“Through cyber crime, transnational criminal organizations pose a significant threat to financial and trust systems — banking, stock markets, e-currency, and value and credit card services — on which the world economy depends,” the report states. “Pervasive criminal activity in cyberspace not only directly affects its victims, but can imperil citizens’ and businesses’ faith in these digital systems, which are critical to our society and economy.”

However, the United States is unprepared to meet these growing threats in a timely manner due to the “critical shortage of investigators with the knowledge and expertise to analyze ever increasing amounts of potential digital evidence,” the report states.

In many respects, cyber defense has not been keeping pace with the evolving and growing number of threats.

A recent Government Accountability Office report found the Defense Department lacking in its ability to meet current cybersecurity threats.

Recent testimony before a House subcommittee also contended that the nation also is behind in protecting its critical infrastructure.


About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.


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