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Prosecutorial victories to convict and dole out punishment for cybercrimes and online ID theft are few and far between. Part of the reason is because the lion's share of spam threats doesn't come from the U.S., it comes from gangs based in Asia and Russia. And, although cybercrime laws are being updated in several countries, including Russia, law enforcement efforts are not as aggressive as those in the U.S.
Another reason for so few cybercrime convictions is that criminals are somewhat of a moving target. They may not be physically moving from place to place, but they are able to reroute the cyber schemes through multiple networks that are difficult to trace. And to add fuel to the fire, they continually devise new and more sophisticated techniques to get past anti-spam software and firewalls. One of the latest types of spam slipping through corporate systems is image-based spam.
If there's good news, it's that law enforcement agencies are more determined to gear up rather than give up the fight. The latest technologies being implemented to fight spam and phishing expeditions are reputation services designed to identify and rate suspicious e-mail. The goal is to cut off the destructive malware at the gateway so it can't enter the network.
There's an element of patience required to successfully track and capture online identity thieves. Yet, once arrested, multiple indictments can lead to a theft conviction, resulting in decades of prison time.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|