APEC furthers plans to combat cybercrime

Countries that want to be able to tackle cybercrime need to pass wide-ranging laws and be prepared to openly cooperate with other countries, delegates of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) group said Monday.

The statement came at the end of a conference organized by the APEC e-Security Task Group in Bangkok last week which sought ways to develop comprehensive legal frameworks to combat cybercrime and to build law enforcement units capable of investigating cybercrime.

Greater connectivity through the Internet has become a major opportunity for cyber-criminals, according to John Malcolm, deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Cybercrime is not confined by borders, and cyber-criminals can exploit differences in laws that exist between different economies," he said. "International law enforcement cooperation is vital to protect people and businesses from the new dangers that are apparent in the modern interconnected world. It is essential for the economic development and security of the region for all economies to work together to implement measures to investigate, capture and prosecute cyber-criminals."

Delegates agreed that all APEC economies need to develop legal frameworks which include:

-- laws that criminalize conduct such as unauthorized access to computer systems and causing damage to computer systems;

-- laws allowing law enforcement authorities to collect electronic evidence; and

-- laws and policies that allow economies to cooperate with each other in investigating and prosecuting cybercrime.

Cybercrime is so common now that APEC economies need to set up dedicated cybercrime units, and to ensure they can liaise quickly with their counterparts in other economies, the delegates said.

Cybercrime has become ubiquitous on end-user PCs, including lottery scams, fake banking Web sites, bogus check passing on auction sites, and Nigerian 419 advance fee frauds. Recently, these frauds have begun moving to mobile phones, with Australian authorities warning of a lottery scam being sent via SMS (Short Message Service).

APEC brings together 21 economies that border the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.