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,"
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
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
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
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