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Painter said nations must build the capacity to investigate computer crime, and need emergency teams to respond to attacks and breakdowns of computer networks. As an example of the severity of the online crime problem, Painter pointed to the case of Albert Gonzalez, who last month was sentenced to 20 years in federal court in Boston for leading a group of cyberthieves, including two in Eastern Europe, in the largest case of identity theft in U.S. history.

Gonzalez’s group stole more than 130 million credit- and debit-card numbers from retailers and a credit-card transaction processor. Adding to the intrigue, Gonzalez had been an informant for the Secret Service. Painter said Gonzalez had generally entered the company’s systems through open wireless networks and had caused $200 million in damage.

Despite its disagreement on the convention, Russia says it is stepping up its efforts to fight crime. Officials point to the recent arrests by Russian authorities in relation to the $10 million online robbery of the Royal Bank of Scotland as evidence of its sincerity in combating cybercrime. Those arrested included citizens of Russia, Moldova, and Estonia.

Fighting cybercrime around the world requires strong legal structures to enable prosecutions; a trained corps of investigators to respond to crimes; and the ability to cooperate internationally. Painter is a former federal computer-crimes prosecutor in Los Angeles and later worked in the computer crime division at the Department of Justice. “When I started prosecuting these cases [in 1991], we had lone-gunman hackers,” he said. Today, “you also have transnational criminal groups involved in things like cyberextortion and theft of [intellectual property], and the insider threat is a huge threat we face, too.”

There has been some progress, Painter said. Twenty years ago, international cooperation was based on personal relationships. Today “you really do have organizations set up in the other countries.” However, he added, too few countries are fully engaged, and “we need to build that more generally.”

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Tagged: Computing, cyber attacks, cyber security, Germany, cybercriminals, cyber warfare, Russia, White House

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