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 Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Report entitled Personal Internet Security from the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has been made available on Friday discussing primarily the issues pertaining to individual experiences of the Internet. In the report, the U.K., ISPs and others, has been said to unfairly hold Internet users responsible for online safety. According to the panel, this "laissez-faire" attitude toward personal security is what weakens user confidence. The report proposes that ISPs should be held responsible and avoid them from ignoring spam and malware notices, and that information technology vendors be held liable for not making products secure.

Network security, appliances and applications, how businesses and individuals use the Internet and policing of the online world were studied and dealt with in the Lords inquiry. It also noted that the U.K. government is at fault for not showing leadership in assembling available information and interpreting it for the public. "The Government are not themselves in a position directly to gather the necessary data, but they do have a responsibility to show leadership in pulling together the data that are available, interpreting them for the public and setting them in context, balancing risks and benefits. Instead of doing this, the Government have not even agreed definitions of key concepts such as 'e-crime'." The report recommends the establishment of a cross-departmental group in the Government, "bringing in experts from industry and academia, to develop a more co-ordinated approach to data collection in future. This should include a classification scheme for recording the incidence of all forms of e-crime. Such a scheme should cover not just Internetspecific crimes, such as Distributed Denial of Service attacks, but also e-enabled crimes - that is to say, traditional crimes committed by electronic means or where there is a significant electronic aspect to their commission."

The committee points out the need for more support for research from the industry as well. "The development of one or more major multidisciplinary research centres, following the model of CITRIS, is necessary to attract private funding and bring together experts from different academic departments and industry in a more integrated, multi-disciplinary research effort."

End-users are still predominantly viewed as unable to protect their own security according to the report. And private companies are driven by strong incentives to either promote security for profit or to oppose it as imposing costs on them according to lawmakers. The committee, thus, proposes that ISPs, being the link between the users and the network, could take more control over the network traffic by blocking or filtering traffic containing malicious code. "We do not advocate immediate legislation or heavy- handed intervention by the regulator," says the lawmakers, adding that the market must be nudged to provide better security.

Further recommendations of the committee include criminalizing trade in botnet services, no matter what their use, creating a unified, Web-based reporting scheme for e-crime, more action on creating a central e-crime police unit, fast ratification of the Council of Europe CyberCrime Convention, and educating courts on Internet crime.

Read the full article on Factiva Content Watch.
To access the report, click here.