Whack-A-Cyber Criminal

There has been recent news covering the prosecution of certain cyber criminals responsible for malware such as Mariposa. Mariposa is botnet malware that originated in Spain and has infected 13 million computers. It’s always good to put the bad guy in jail but is law enforcement of cybercrime just an electronic version of the arcade favorite Whack-A-Mole? Will there always be another mole about to pop up? The answer is yes until the punishment fits the crime.

While these criminals need to be prosecuted it is not the most efficient way to prevent further problems. Time could be better spent on efforts that prevent other criminals from taking their place such as stricter sentencing for these crimes.

If a man walked into a bank and stole $5 million dollars he would be facing years in prison. If a man sat behind his computer screen and stole $5 million dollars (a comparably easier task) he would receive a much lighter sentence. Until the risk outweighs the reward this will be an area of opportunity for criminals. A number of mechanisms must be put in place to deter this kind of crime such as increasing user security education, implementing harsher laws, and technological cooperation.

There needs to be a standardization or at least consistent enforcement of international laws across all jurisdictional boundaries so that it is clear to everyone what is and is not illegal. In addition, it must be clear who should be penalized and who is responsible for enforcing it? Is the creator of malware as guilty as the controller?
So is it pointless to enforce cyber crime? It’s never pointless to enforce the law but in its current state it is proving to be an extremely inefficient way of dealing with the problem and problems to come.

- Marc

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