There is a tendency of organised crime to be more strongly associated with these attacks and new concerns have emerged, such as the massive spread of malicious software creating “botnets”
European societies are increasingly dependent on electronic networks and information systems. Cybercrime covers new crimes specific to the Internet, such as attacks against information systems or phishing (fake bank websites to solicit passwords enabling access to victims’ bank accounts). Computers are also used as criminal tools to commit more traditional crimes, such as fraud and the dissemination of illegal content, e.g. child sexual abuse material or incitements to violence on the Internet.
A daily nuisance and potential threat
Whilst the value of the cybercriminal economy as a whole is not yet known, the most recent estimate of global corporate losses alone stands at around EUR 750 billion per year. The scale of the problem is itself a threat to law enforcement response capability – with more than 150 000 viruses and other types of malicious code in circulation and 148 000 computers compromised per day (source: McAfee). Given the development of cyber crime in recent years, the Commission has designed a coordinated policy in close cooperation with EU States and the other EU institutions. The Commission Communication “Towards a general policy on the fight against cyber crime” sets out the main elements of this policy: increased law enforcement cooperation, public-private partnerships and international cooperation.
Businesses have recently been targets of previously unknown large-scale and dangerous attacks. Similarly, an increased number of such attacks against governments has been observed, such as in Estonia in 2007 and in Lithuania in 2008. There is a tendency of organised crime to be more strongly associated with these attacks and new concerns have emerged, such as the massive spread of malicious software creating “botnets” – networks of infected computers that can be remotely controlled to stage large-scale coordinated attacks.