CyberCrime: Teaching Old Politicians New Tricks

Dennis Faas's picture

The government doesn't understand cybercrime. For many, that might not be much of a surprise, but the fact alone is enough to prevent any real measures in defending against the rapid growth of malicious activity on the Internet.

According to a report last week by Toronto, Ontario's International Perspectives research group, the most significant barrier between government bodies and their ability to do something about cybercrime is simply their ignorance on the topic. Alicia Wanless, executive director of International Perspectives, argues, "I think it's difficult for the average person to get a grasp of what it is, the 'cyber' in front of it makes it seem as though it's some new type of crime...In most cases it's traditional crime that's been facilitated by ICT (information and communications technology)."

In other words, the fact that it doesn't feature a gun or a bank makes it seem foreign, and perhaps less threatening. And yet, there are still innocent hostages caught in between. (Source:

International Perspectives argues that all governments should pursue more than just remote education campaigns. A few websites here and there, well out of the public eye, simply won't prepare anyone for the realities of the Internet. "There's been a lack of adequate movement towards countering cybercrime, just even on a public awareness level -- putting up Web sites isn't enough," Wanless said. (Source:

Instead, education must be direct. Wanless and her fellow researchers believe a strong tactic would be instituting web crime education into the curriculums of college and unversity courses.

Three major recommendations were recommended by International Perspectives for governments:

  • One, establish an independent agency to actively pursue cybercriminals.
  • Two, fund a body that can investigate cybercrime and its impact on society. That group should feature diverse professionals, including security experts, academics in the field, and lawyers.
  • Third, ensure that activity posing a threat is criminalized, and soon. Above all, it's about time we started taking these crimes and their criminals seriously.

According to Wanless, it can be a chain reaction. "If individuals start accepting their own responsibility in this, and they get active and interested, then their bosses will, and then politicians will."

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