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[] Russland: doppelt so viel Cybercrime im letzten Jahr,

Monday, Mar. 3, 2003. Page 5 

Ministry: Crime Rate Doubled in Cyberspace

By Oksana Yablokova 
Staff Writer 
Computer-related crime rates doubled in 2002 from the previous year,
causing an estimated $6 billion of damage to Russian Internet users, the
Interior Ministry said Friday.

The ministry last year registered 6,251 high-tech crimes, mainly hacking
and online theft, said Konstantin Machabeli, deputy head of the Interior
Ministry's technology crime department. 

He did not provide exact statistics for 2001.

"New technologies develop rapidly so it is no wonder criminals can
figure out ways to take advantage of them quickly," Machabeli said at a
news conference.

The ministry's high-tech crimes department said its investigations
included theft of classified business information, stolen credit card
numbers sent to online businesses and pirated software.

Law enforcement officials believe the actual number of computer crimes
could be much higher than the reported cases. Only about 10 percent of
computer crimes are officially registered with the police, they say. 

Many victims are reluctant to report computer crimes because they fear
it could damage their business reputations, Machabeli said.

To deal with the problem, the high-tech crimes department has hired
computer specialists to handle the investigations, which are often too
specialized for most police detectives, he said.

Prosecuting high-tech crimes has also become difficult. Evidence is
often only "virtual," and not all computer crimes being committed are
spelled out in the law, Machabeli said. 

Amending criminal legislation to include those crimes would help
prosecutors, he added.

Svetlana Novikova, a spokeswoman for Kaspersky Labs, a leading
anti-virus software developer, disagreed and said that amending the
legislation to toughen the punishment of the crime or to include more
types of crimes would not stop hackers.

As the number of Internet users continues to rise, so too will the
variety of computer crimes, Novikova said.

Russia is one of many countries where the number of online users has
grown along with the number of online crimes, she said.

Because most Internet users are anonymous, the situation cannot change
until there is a way to trace computer hackers , she said. 

In January, Mobile TeleSystems, or MTS, reported that one of the
company's databases containing details on about 5 million customers was
being sold in CD form for $60 on the black market. 

The case was one of the most high-profile computer crimes in corporate
Russian history.

The MTS database contained the clients' names, passport numbers, home
addresses and telephone numbers, individual tax numbers and other
personal details, the mobile-phone company said. 

The case is still unsolved despite a MTS internal investigation, company
spokeswoman Yeva Prokofyeva said Friday.

"All that is further complicated by the fact that the information on
those CDs could have come from other sources, not just from our
database," Prokofyeva said.

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