Canadian Security Magazine

Cybercrime fighters preparing for Bangkok conference

Jennifer Brown   

News Data Security

An international group of cybercrime fighters will be gathering in Bangkok this November, including a Canadian who heads up the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace, an international body tracking the latest in illegal activity on the Web.

"The key objective of our annual summit is to pull different groups together at an international level to share information on what are the current trends of cybercrime," says Bessie Pang, executive director, the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace based in Burnaby, B.C.

Among the themes the group will be exploring Nov. 5-9 at the Policing Cyberspace International Summit 2007 include Challenges in the Collection and Application of Digital Evidence, Building Trusted Communities in the Virtual World, E-Money Laundering in Financial Sectors, Pharmaceutical Crime Online and Child Exploitation, among many others.

"Quite often, something happening in Asia may not have hit Canada yet so we explore the different legislation and policies other countries have developed in light of something that has happened," says Pang.

Of particular interest at this year's conference, says Pang, is the examiniation of online pharmaceuticals crimes. It is of interest to Canadians especially following the death of a 57-year-old B.C. woman who died last December after taking contaminiated pills purchased online.

"It is a very unfortunate incident and pharmaceutical crime is really a life and death issue and those on low incomes are often the target," says Pang.

One major difference between "conventional crime" and cybercrime, says Pang, is that those involved have technological expertise and they work fast, so those chasing them in law enforcement must be able to do so as well.

"These people have no problem communicating with each other and the pace of the crimes they commit is faster than normal crime."

Sometimes, it can work in the favour of law enforcement, as it did with a child exploitation case of a victim in Port Moody, B.C. The offender was located in Australia following discussions with members of the POLCYB at one of their conferences.

Other areas of concern to members of POLCYB include the rise in criminal activity in online role-playing games. In Asia several murders have occured involving those who took the games too seriously.

"In one case, a player "killed" another player's virtual character and that person tracked down the other guy and killed him," says Pang. "Even a couple of years ago some police officers from Asia said online gaming was a priority for the police there."

The POLCYB is a multi-disciplinary organization with representation from private security, policing, social workers, probation officers and IT experts.

Another Canadian member is Telus CSO and vice-president Gene McLean who says a core focus for the organization has been to root out crimes related to children and it's something the organization has worked hard to battle against.

"This is a group that doesn't get a lot of attention but it does a lot of good wok," says McLean.

While McLean is an ex-RCMP officer and has served the organization as a corporate security executive for many years now, the organization draws from a large group of experts from other areas.

"We want to have representation from all the groups that touch cybercrime," says Pang, whose background is in criminology and artificial intelligence. "It's not just the police aspect and not just the information sector. We want to break down the barriers to the various disciplines."

POLCYB was incorporated as a not-for-profit society in June 1999. Based in British Columbia the goal of the organization is to enhance international partnerships among public and private professionals to prevent and combat crimes in cyberspace.

"The international network includes individuals from the public and private sectors. Our partners range from professionals who work in the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, corporate security, and academic institutions. We strive to facilitate information-sharing between and among executives, administrators, and front-line professionals through seeking expert advice among our global and diverse membership," says Pang.

The organization also provides public education on information protection and Internet safety to raise public awareness of cybercrime, including those committed against children and youth.

For more information on the conference this November in Bangkok, Thailand, visit the organization's website at:

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