What can law enforcement agencies do against cybercrime?

Reports concerning computer crime or abuse have been hot topics on news on a daily basis. In particular, alarming is the recognition that most of the masterminds who plan such attacks are capable of disguising themselves completely. Some are able to impersonate and pose as mere kids making it even more frustrating. In essence, children no longer require high end skills so as to execute cybercrime. Tools used by hackers are readily available over the internet and malicious users (and other novice users) can download them. Resultantly, this significantly expands the population of malicious users. With this, law and the accompanying agencies have to curb the menace from spreading even further. In fact, several mechanisms are needed considering that cybercrime is fast evolving –with every minute- and wrongdoers are becoming more sophisticated than ever. According to consultants, law enforcement agencies are only able to deter three to four percent of serious cybercrimes activities which tells how unaffectedly the issue is being dealt with.

Law enforcement agencies can curb cybercrime by designing laws that match up to those used by other agencies. In this, collaboration between several communities and actors could be initiated and the resultant effort could serve the issue better. Agreeably, the greatest impendent whenever law enforcement agencies try to stop cybercrime activities appears when authorities enter into a different region or territory. The laws concerning cybercrime are not standard from one territory to another and this does not serve the issue well especially considering that cybercrimes are carried out over the internet (global networks). Thus, a malicious user from one continent is able to attack another continent or country while still at his home. The attacks are realized on the other end (country or continent) of course from which the attacker does not reside (Gaines and Miller, 243). As such, when law enforcement agencies from the attacked side realize this they are unable to deal with attacker since they have to follow and comply with laws that govern such crimes on the particular region. This and others clearly demonstrate that there is need for standard laws not only to facilitate the whole process of curbing cybercrime, but also to make it fast. It is worth noting that years may elapse since the discovery of an attack through the actual capture especially when the procedure involves different authorities or nations.

One of the many gains from such a move would be sharing of information. Law authority’s agencies from one region (border) can communicate with their peers from another nation concerning cybercrime knowing that any knowledge relayed is handy. Sharing of information within cross borders is a critical tool for law enforcement agencies in fighting cybercrime considering that some nations (of course where some cybercrime attack originate) lack the proper knowledge or information on how to detect or track wrongdoers. Identification and arrest of key players in cybercrime indulges a host of related complexities with the chief being differing authorities or laws. Cybercrime affects nearly all nations –if not all- and these shows that each would gladly contribute were they in a position to do so. Most law enforcement agencies are in short of necessary expertise and with sharing of information, cybercrime would be addressed significantly. In fact, the incapable law enforcement agencies would be rendered capable with the use of shared information and various agencies (particularly those from inadequate expertise nations) would seem more potent and thus contribute against cybercrime.

In addition, the harmonizing or match up of laws concerning cybercrime between different authorities or regions would almost inevitably lead to international laws addressing the same. In this, law enforcement agencies from all over the world would fast realize the need for universal laws. For instance, two or three nations or authorities having merged up to use same cybercrime laws would significantly influence other blocks to come in. Eventually, continents and globes would merge against the cybercrime menace altogether eradicating it. Law enforcement agencies from one region would easily know what to expect (procedures) after discovering a malicious attacker operating beyond their respective territory. In addition, subsequent legal proceedings would be easier to enforce or monitor due to the widespread laws. Other benefits would include augmented cooperation between administrations all of which go a long way in assisting and encouraging law enforcement agencies in the fight against cybercrime.

Harmonization and standardization of laws regarding cybercrime would also mean to provide financial support or funds especially to those regions that are poor and may not have finances meant for fight against cybercrime. Funds are required by law enforcement agencies in carrying out their mandate considering that the process of identifying, tracking and capture of malicious individuals is complex and costly (Baggili, 9-15). Various sophisticated computer peripherals and software are necessary in order for the course to be completed; most of which are not readily available to agencies. The major hindrance is finances to acquire them and therefore when existing laws facilitate support, law enforcement agencies worldwide would be in a position to fight cybercrime. Third world nations –from where cybercrime activities may originate- have agencies in place but usually, they lack proper financial support from respective authorities and thus are ineffective in carrying out the mandate. However, with standardized laws that support financial assistance, such a barrier against stopping cybercrime would be solved law enforcement agencies throughout the planet would be effective.

Properly designed laws by law enforcement agencies would also translate into restraint. Initially, attackers from specific authorities carry out the malicious activities having recognized that the existing laws –if any- are lenient or no action is taken when found. In some cases, laws addressing cybercrime do not apply and this encourages wrongdoers. However, harmonized and universal laws would mean that enforcement agencies use widespread actions against malicious persons. In itself, this may be perceived as a campaign or calls for tougher laws and actions when an attacker is found; irrespective of their locality. Additionally, law enforcement agencies from one region would know in advance what kind of action is taken for a particular malicious activity noted. Enforcement agencies would also contact peers and get assistance on how to deal with cybercrime issues recognizing that common laws –thus action- are used. Agencies from one region would be in a position to directly influence those from other countries while using their laws. Inevitably, such collective efforts would serve against cybercrime and malicious users of internet would feel even more restrained or curbed.

Cooperation between law enforcement agencies would also mean that emerging cybercrime issues are easily put forth for other agencies or authorities to be aware. In most cases, when an issue relating to cybercrime is detected, enforcement agencies do not communicate or tell their peers. This is a big problem because in case an attack is launched it takes a long time to eradicate. In fact, most attacks are continually recycled and it is easy to find a threat that was detected and eradicated long ago has surfaced again but only in a different locality. As such, one attack is becomes a huge problem than it would have been if information had been communicated. When one enforcement agency tells another of a cybercrime attack, it sounds as a warning and respective enforcement agencies can put countermeasures in place all of which renders the potential threat irrelevant. This is especially true since most cybercrime attacks are targeted at critical sectors or information prior spreading to other places which are less meaningful. Cybercriminals are known to distribute knowledge (commonly known as backdoors) on how to navigate security mechanisms. Likewise, law enforcement agencies could hugely benefit by communicating with peers whenever a threat is detected. The aim of this move is to ensure that issues relating to cyber activities are raised and all enforcement agencies are in a position to determine the right actions to be taken. Knowledge is a valuable and indispensible tool in the fight against cybercrime and law enforcement agencies must apply it efficiently and effectively.

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Harmonization of cross borders laws regarding cyber crime by law enforcement agencies also mean that the small agencies are elevated to a new high level. A majority of agencies are perceived ineffective due to their size which makes them frail. It is worth noting that large law enforcement agencies such as Federal Board of Investigators are considered effective against cybercrime because they are termed huge and capable to do so. These are only few agencies while hundreds of them cannot claim such powers. Hence, the sizable law enforcement agencies could harmonize the law so that the disadvantaged agencies act as subsidiaries and be effective as their counterparts. This is particularly significant since all agencies would act parallel and serve better against cybercrime. For instance, fight against cybercrime involves digital forensics and such techniques would be available on sizable agencies thus disadvantaging the least sizable. Through harmonization of laws and acting as subsidiaries, the latter would forward cybercrime issues necessitating inspection of digital signatures to the capable agencies and be able to proceed with entire process of identifying wrongdoers. This is in recognition that most law enforcement agencies usually abandon or ignore the process of identifying cybercriminals one they reach a point that necessitates materials or expertise that is not readily available. In other words, the cost or resources involved outweighs the need to proceed towards identifying these wrongdoers. At such circumstances, able law enforcement agencies would surely prove handy.

Cross border or state cooperation between enforcement agencies would additionally lead to the development of advanced information technology systems significantly capable to fight cybercrime. Various law enforcement agencies would develop deep mutual appreciation and contribute in developing the required technological systems. The enforcement agencies clearly recognize the challenges they encounter while carrying the mandate of identifying cybercriminals and in cooperation, their input in development of information systems would largely contribute against the menace. As a result, the information systems developed to fight off cybercrimes would be more specific and directly address challenges that are faced by law enforcement agencies. Involvement of law enforcement agencies provides valuable information in the development of these systems. With harmonized laws, developers and law enforcement agencies would jointly play active roles in the development of proper systems to fight cybercrimes (Lan et al, 2010). Over and over again, lack of contribution and cooperation among interested players render the fight against cybercrime ineffective. Hence, there is need to law enforcement agencies to indulge themselves in information systems development.

Harmonizing of laws regarding cybercrime and cooperation in law enforcement agencies translates into advanced monitor. Policing in virtual world is not an individual effort but collective efforts from various enforcement agencies. Thus, with harmonized laws, players or agencies from one region can contribute to virtual policing without limitations. Cybercriminals are usually known to reside in specific regions (often less serious in fighting cybercrime) and more policing can be directed there by various transnational enforcement agencies. Such a move can only be facilitated when laws are harmonized and allow law enforcement agencies to do so. This clearly shows the need for cooperation between various agencies in eradicating cybercriminals. In fact, just like cybercrimes constantly change, the war has to come from all fronts. Additionally, this would mean that where laws concerning cybercrime are not in place, other law enforcement agencies can police such regions; leaving even less room for cybercriminals to carry out malicious activities. Currently, a few relevant cyber security agreements focus only on concerns where certain nations have signed understanding of such moves. This underlines the need for all law enforcement agencies to come together and mask themselves as a block that is even more potent.

Harmonization of treaties over territories or countries by law enforcement agencies is mandatory in the fight against cybercrime. For instance, agencies in the United States could harmonize their treaties with those from Southeast Asian nations so that in case cybercriminals are tracked down in Southeast Asia, the US can directly order law enforcement agencies to close down the cybercriminals. A treaty usually brings together several territories and thus it becomes even easier in amassing all nations. Altogether, the merging of these agencies ensures that in case cybercriminals are detected subsequent counteractions are initiated.

Law enforcement agencies also cooperate for collective awareness among citizens. Some regions fall far short of others in terms of population awareness and this leaves loopholes for cybercrime to thrive. With harmonized laws and cooperation, the knowledgeable law enforcement agencies would visit such places so as to create awareness on cybercrime among the citizens. For example, citizens from developing nations do match their counterparts from developed countries in the knowledge about cybercrime. Thus, cybercrimes knows specific regions or countries to target with significant success. They are well aware of vulnerable populations and will likely target them knowing that law enforcement agencies in such areas do little or nothing on creating awareness. By simple creating a malicious electronic mail, thousands of users will try to open it despite being unaware of the sender. On the other hand, in case such a malicious email was sent into countries in which the population is knowledgeable on such attacks, the success or impact would be insignificant since few individuals would be tempted to open anonymous documents. Besides, when informed citizens note malicious objects over the internet, they likely initiate an action through informing relevant enforcement agencies; which would significantly minimize effects intended by cybercriminals. Thus, various law enforcement agencies can harmonize and act together so that education to the citizen is uniform and administered in the right manner. Time and again, lack of knowledge among users (citizens) considerably augments the impact cybercriminals make (Cross, 35). In particular, law enforcement agencies with more knowledge concerning cybercrime can extend it to other vulnerable and disadvantaged regions so that no population of citizens is easily attacked by malicious persons. Furthermore, some citizens make cracking down of illegal activities (including cybercrime) a threat to their state power and sovereignty. Because of the belief that information spreads freely they lack a clear standpoint on what represent harmful information. In such circumstances, law enforcement agencies need to unite so that proper knowledge is spread to all citizens.

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The creation of regional information security systems with influence from law enforcement agencies is indispensible. This would lead to integration of international legal norms as well as threat monitor. Legislations would be more harmonized and resultantly ensure the establishment of unified agencies meant to investigate cybercrimes; thus preventing internet usage for criminal purposes. Harmonized laws with input from enforcement agencies would translate into development of even better transnational laws meant to fight cybercrime. Merging of laws would mean merging of efforts by enforcement agencies and this is significantly helpful with the ever increasing cybercriminals. Additionally, the need for efforts to track and punish internet crime perpetrators would ramp up and resultantly make other lenient enforcement agencies realize that cybercrimes are real threats to internet growth.

The greatest impendent in implementing cybercrime laws relates to geographic areas and this can only be solved through cooperation. Prior any law enforcement agency investigates a cybercrime concern, there must be jurisdiction. Law enforcement agencies must merge so that they are not restricted to specific geographical locations all of which inhibits them to overly carry out their mandate. Majority of law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction over cybercrime activities that happen inside where the agency has authority and this does not go along with the manner in which cybercriminals operate. In fact, it is rare to find cybercriminals operating within their territory since they are aware of consequences for their activities if caught. However, they do not recognize laws from other jurisdictions and this point out for the need for more education by various law enforcement agencies on a transnational level. One law enforcer situated in California can barely extend authority in arresting a cybercriminal in Georgia, the Federal Board of Investigators have no authority to arrest a cybercriminal in England and so forth.

In a conclusion, consistent laws concerning cybercrime would help law enforcement agencies in executing their mandate. However, they have to ensure that their input is integrated and that they follow the laws throughout. Cybercrime is worldwide in nature and this call for global harmonization of the laws as well as deep cooperation between enforcement agencies. In essence, transnational laws pertaining cybercrime would act as an international court where cybercriminals are placed. This way, cybercrimes that mostly originate from non- stringent territories would be curbed. Bilateral conventions and regional treaties are helpful but usually not sufficient. All in all, the need for collective efforts from all stakeholders and particularly the law enforcement agencies is vital in fighting off cybercrime. It is hard to imagine that agencies from developed jurisdictions (or territories) will even have an effect on their own given that cybercriminals are on the rise with every minute.

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