Thursday, September 16, 2004

E-crime: Call for a United Front

Shane McKenzie is looking online for stories of e-crime. Photo: Rodger Cummins Cyber criminals could be slipping through the fingers of investigators due to a lack of co-operation between police and corporate cyber sleuths, warns an e-crime researcher. Quick police access to privately owned infrastructure in order to chase online felons is just one issue still to be resolved, says Shane McKenzie. A University of Melbourne criminology lecturer, McKenzie is writing his PhD on e-crime investigative partnerships between the private sector and law enforcement. "A lack of co-operation between the sectors can actually mean loss of evidence or a dead-end for your investigation," he says. "The private sector and law enforcement are both saying, 'we have to work together in partnership', but what does that mean and what are the implications of that? "Do we need new laws to deal with how these investigators work together? Do we need changes in laws so that companies are able to collect data in the off-chance of a crime occurring in the future - these are some of the issues I'm examining." McKenzie has been preparing his research for two years, working closely with Victoria Police's major fraud investigation division and computer crime squad. He is also a lecturer in the new graduate certificate in e-crime investigation, taught jointly by Melbourne University Private and Victoria Police. Stereotypes - for example, that private-sector investigators only worry about the bottom line and corporate image - are breaking down, McKenzie says, as are those that police are just out to "catch the crooks" and don't care about company reputations or shareholders' interests. McKenzie is conducting an anonymous online survey looking at the impact and extent of e-crime - from identity, credit card and online auction fraud to virus infections and online sex offenders. "The problem is out there but you don't know the scope and the size of it and how many people it's actually affecting or what's the actual cost to them," McKenzie says. "I'm interested in having responses from the whole range of the community, all industry sectors and all levels of an organisation, not just senior management of the big corporations. "Ideally, every investigator in Victoria will put their hand up and say, 'I have a story to tell about how I work, day to day'." Visit the research site of Shane McKenzie


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