Britain announces plans to thwart cybercriminals

Britain has launched a multi-million-dollar global initiative to help fight organized criminals and terrorists using the Internet. The plan was rolled out at an international gathering in Budapest aimed at making the Internet more secure.

Speaking at the international Budapest Conference on Cyberspace, British Foreign Minister William Hague said his country wants to lead a worldwide effort to stem the rapidly growing number of cyberspace attacks threatening companies and governments.

“It has never been easier to become a cybercriminal than it is today,” said Hague. “It is now possible to buy off-the-shelf malicious software designed to steal bank details for as little as 3,000 pounds, including access to a 24-hour technical support line. As foreign secretary, I see frequent evidence of deliberate and organized attacks against intellectual and government networks in the United Kingdom.”

He said that when London hosted the Summer Olympic Games, some 200 emails and dozens of British government departments were targeted by cybercriminals attempting to obtain sensitive government information.

Hague explained that earlier this year, hackers managed to steal the equivalent of 20 million pages of sensitive information from what he called “a well-protected international company.” A large manufacturer allegedly was targeted during negotiations with an unidentified foreign government.

Hague said the attacks prompted his government to allocate an additional amount of roughly $1 billion over the next four years to improve the nation’s Internet capabilities. Additionally, Britain will invest more than $3.2 million annually to help other less fortunate countries tackle cyber crime.

“Cybercriminals and terrorists should have no refuge online, just as they should have no sanctuary offline. I can therefore announce today that the United Kingdom is a developing a new center for global cybersecurity capacity building in the United Kingdom,” said Hague. “And, we will be investing 2 million pounds a year to offer countries independent advice on how to build secure and resilient cyberspace, improving coordination and promoting good governance online.”

Hague said concern over illicit Internet activities should not be used as an excuse to limit freedom of expression, even in some established democracies.

The minister did not mention conference host Hungary, although the country was criticized about legislation that opponents say limits press freedom and increases government control of online and traditional media.

Hungary’s center-right government says the media law is in line with international standards.

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