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UNODC launches study on cyber crime

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

As cyber crime reaches worrying levels across the globe, the United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has announced a comprehensive study on the menace.

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov says the study is targeting responses by Member States, the international community and the private sector.

This comes against a background that 1.5 million people around the world become victims of cybercrime every year at an economic loss estimated at USD1 billion.

The startling statistics are from a UNODC report titled The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment.

The report reveals that cybercrime is endangering the security of nations; power grids, air traffic and even nuclear installations have been penetrated.

"The same information technology that brings many benefits also offers new opportunities for crime for those able to exploit vulnerabilities in the global network, usually for financial gain. Criminals use technology to coordinate illicit trafficking and flows of money, abuse and exploit children, incite racial or religious hatred or perpetuate acts of terrorism," said Mr. Fedotov.

Speaking at a forum entitled "Global Risks 2012" at the World Economic Forum taking place this week in Davos, Switzerland, Fedotov announced that Member States would shortly receive a questionnaire from UNODC on cybercrime prevention, policy, legislation, law enforcement and criminal justice response, international cooperation and technical assistance.

The results of the study will be presented to the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in 2013 and will inform Member States' responses to cybercrime.

"Many countries lack basic legislation that either criminalizes cybercrime or provides for the necessary procedural powers for law enforcement authorities to carry out specialized investigation, such as interception of online traffic data or use of computer forensic software," noted Fedotov.

The comprehensive study is in line with the UNODC mandate to contribute to a greater understanding of the threat of cybercrime and to provide technical assistance and training to States to improve national legislation and build capacity to deal with cybercrime.

"UNODC is ready to provide technical assistance to countries upon request," said the Executive Director, adding that it is only through partnerships at the national, regional and international levels between governments, the private sector (Internet service providers and information technology companies), academia and intergovernmental organizations that the fast-evolving challenges of cybercrime can be addressed.

Mr. Fedotov noted that the increased involvement of developing countries in law enforcement cooperation networks will be crucial to the development of a global response to cybercrime.

In May 2011, the International Telecommunication Union and UNODC signed a memorandum of understanding to expand the range of services and support for countries requesting assistance in addressing cybercrime.

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