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COMPUTER EXPERTS DRAWN INTO CRIMINAL WEB

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 COMPUTER EXPERTS DRAWN INTO CRIMINAL WEB

        By TRUDY HARRIS.

        CRIMINALS are recruiting telecommunications employees
        to commit high-technology fraud, extortion, piracy and
        money laundering, a soon-to-be-published book by
        Australian Institute of Criminology researchers says.

        The book warns law enforcement agencies may be unable
        to cope with the increase in crimes on the Internet and
        telecommunications networks, which are becoming
        increasingly sophisticated and undetectable. The
        researchers say evidence exists employees in the
        telecommunications industry are lending their skills to
        criminals or are leaving the industry to pursue
        "lucrative" crimes themselves.

        "There is evidence of telecommunications employees
        either being involved in the commission of offences or
        at least lending their expertise to others to do so,"
        they say.

        The crimes include tapping into the EPTPOS and ATM
        systems to divert money, shutting down company computer
        systems to steal funds and electronic money laundering.

        The book also suggests online drug deals could be
        carried out.

        The book, by AIC head researcher Dr Paul Grabosky and
        researcher Dr Russell Smith, says law enforcement
        agencies need boosted resources, expert training and
        co-operation to combat such computer crime. The
        researchers identify a range of crime trends including
        "cyber stalking" - harassment over the Internet - and
        publishing pornography and instructions for illegal
        practices on the Internet.

        They cite one case involving a student who composed a
        sadistic fantasy and sent it over the Internet using a
        fellow student's name. A West Australian academic was
        also targeted for comment on the Internet and
        successfully sued.

        Another case involved a nurse who tapped into her
        hospital's information system to change patient
        records, including prescription dosages, date of
        discharges and X-ray schedules.

        They say the Australian Federal Police attributes an
        increase in bombing incidents in recent years to
        greater availability of information on explosives.

        They warn penalties need to be stiffened to curb these
        and other crimes such as computer hacking, piracy and
        vandalism. The book cites one example of a hacker,
        caught infiltrating NASA's computers, the CSIRO and the
        University of Melbourne, who received only a suspended
        sentence and a community-based order. The researchers
        urge companies, universities and individuals to take
        preventative measures against such crimes. "It is even
        suggested that the applications of telecommunications
        to terrorism may one day rival the more traditional
        techniques of bombing and hostage taking," the book
        says.

        It says fighting the crimes is difficult because of a
        reluctance by corporations to report them, often due to
        embarrassment over security scares.

        "Some are concealed by authorities because disclosure
        could prove embarrassing or commercially inconvenient
        to victims." The book, Crime in the Digital Age, is
        released this month ahead of an AIC conference on
        Internet crime featuring papers by law enforcement
        officers, policy-makers and academics.

        (c) Nationwide News Proprietary Ltd, 1998.

        AUSTRALIAN 20/01/98 P3

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