Lawmakers propose more money for cybercrime battle

Cyber-Security Enhancement Act of 2007

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Legislation introduced May 14 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would pump $10 million a year into federal law enforcement efforts to crack down on cybercrime.

The spending surge, which would last until 2011, would help give the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI and the attorney general's staff the training and  computer forensics tools they need to investigate online scams, identity theft and other cybercrimes.

The Cyber-Security Enhancement Act of 2007 also would expand sentencing guidelines for cybercrime as a means to create, in the words of the bill, “an effective deterrent to computer crime and the theft or misuse of personally identifiable information."

Cybercriminals could also face stiffer penalties. The bill would eliminate interstate or foreign communication requirements for certain offenses, make conspiracy to commit cybercrime prosecutable and criminalize botnet attacks. Botnets are networks of computers compromised by hidden software, Trojan horse viruses or back doors that enable criminals to run fraud or spam schemes or launch attacks from multiple computers on the network.

“As [criminals] adapt to…new opportunities to defraud consumers, we must develop better ways to track down the perpetrators and put them away,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in a statement. A bipartisan group led by Schiff and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)  introduced the legislation on Monday.

Industry representatives reacted positively to the bill.

“For too long, cybercriminals have taken advantage of legal blind spots and an under-resourced law enforcement community to brazenly threaten online confidence and security,” said Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, in a press release.

He said offenders are forming organized criminal enterprises and law enforcement would need updated and improved tools to fight back.

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