The key priorities for the St. Louis County cyber-crime task force will be placing emphasis on online fraudulent activities, child exploitation, and pornography and identity theft. Online fraudulent activities are enormous challenges for private and public organizations since fraudsters can manipulate information to suit their needs. Moreover, fraud compromises the security of the nation and has the capability of affecting people far and beyond the state of Missouri. Identity theft is a rising threat in St. Louis and the world at large posing threat to personal info and promoting fraudulent activities (O'Day, 2005, pg.63). Despite the fact that parents try their best to keep their children away from online predators, the issue of child exploitation is still existent, and there is a need for concerted efforts among government agencies, intelligence analysts and the community to stop these illegal activities. Introduction for business leaders especially in the financial world, cyber-crime poses distinct challenges because of the increased reliance on technology. On one side, computer technology has positively transformed the work place, but on the other side, there have been increased cyber-crime cases leading to enormous losses for businesses. In St. Louis County, cyber-crimes are becoming deeply rooted and have mainly exposed both kids and adults to a wide variety of threats. Such a grave situation calls for the development of a cyber-crime task force plan in St. Louis County to recognize cyber-crime investigative tactics and developments of task forces in the country at large. This paper, apart from developing a cyber-crime task force plan for St. Louis County, will also deal with identification of techniques, tools and organizational structures, which can be utilized efficiently by law enforcement agencies in determination of which among them, are likely to be the most beneficial to the taskforce (Schmalleger & Pittaro, 2009).
Cyber-Crime threats in St. Louis County
In St. Louis County, there is a steady increase in the cases of cybercrime in the last few years; different cyber-crimes in different ranges of severity. As crimes committed by the use of computer and the internet have become progressively common in St. Louis County, the effects of overlooking this threat or acting sluggishly are broad. For one, various crimes such as fraud done by use of credit cards and theft of data have been ranked as crimes of high level, which pose a huge threat to the financial health and security of the nation. The commonly occurring incidences of cyber-crimes in St. Louis County include theft of identity, spamming, intrusion of computers, and trafficking of passwords. Internet swindles and phishing are some other forms of cyber-crimes whose occurrence in St. Louis County has started (Casey, 2010).
Current and Future Cybercrime Threats (Data and Statistics)
Cyber-crimes in St. Louis County are chiefly directed to both property and people. In accordance with U.S. College research, 73% of American citizens have encountered different type cyber-crimes. In another case, a publication by the High Technology Crime Investigation Association expounded that internet swindle has intensified by a disturbing 65% from the last research carried out in the 2005. These crimes have been pinpointed to be the commonly occurring cyber-crimes in St. Louis County, implying that they are likely to remain among the utmost threats in St. Louis County in the coming days.
Cyber-Crime Priorities for the Taskforce
Cyber-crimes aimed at juveniles such as child pornography, sexual exploitation and sexual predation are the utmost threats to the residents of St. Louis County. The steadily increasing incidences of these particular crimes can be attributed to the profitable, child pornography market outside the county. Reasonably, such crimes are a threat to the reputation and the yet to come lives of the minors involved.
Cyber Crime Task force structure
Since cyber-crime implicates interstate and international laws, most of the cases are likely to fall under federal jurisdiction. The best cyber-crime task force task force for utilization by St. Louis County should involve a collaboration of federal and local law enforcement together with prosecutors. These three entities can share intelligence and efforts through teamwork to effectively combat cyber-crimes in St. Louis County. Such task forces have been successful in handling traditional crimes, which involve drugs, gangs, violence and weapons. By extension, many researchers and scholars have emphasized the importance of forming such task forces to combat cyber-crime hoping for similar positive results. For such a task force to meet the needs of law enforcement in combatting cybercrime, the investigative functions should be structured in such a way that efforts and attention are concentrated on equipping personnel so that they can accomplish their goals.
In order to be effective, the cyber-crime task force for St. Louis County should form a relationship with other federal task forces in St. Louis County such as Safe Streets Task Forces, St. Louis Metropolitan Fugitive task force and Violent Fugitive Gang and Sex Predator Safe Streets Task Force. The Violent Fugitive Gang and Sex Predator Safe Streets Task Force role is to ensure violent fugitives such as gang members and sexual predators are rounded up (Sullivan, 2005). Since one of the main priorities of the St. Louis County cybercrime task force is to combat online sexual predators, working closely with this task force will be very beneficial. The Safe Streets Task Force in St. Louis County combines the efforts of federal, state, and local agencies in trying to deter violent felons from continuing their criminal activities or operating a criminal empire. For Cyber Crime task force to be successful in combatting cyber-crimes in St. Louis County, a good relationship with this task force is very necessary as they can share intelligence information. The St. Louis Metropolitan Fugitive Task Force is tasked with addressing and reducing violent crimes by apprehending the most notorious fugitives who are difficult to locate. By closely working with such a task force, the Cyber-Crime task force can be able to call for their help in the situation where the identified cyber-criminal is difficult to locate.
Cyber Crime Task Force Equipment
There is no doubt that cybercrime units will always need the ability to collect and handle evidence that originates from their investigations. Computer systems, software, hardware, intrusion detection tools, decryption technology are some of the items the task force requires to carry out their task effectively. For this reason, it is necessary for the police commissioner to provide the Cyber-Crime task force with modern forensic structures and platforms so that they can effectively conduct investigations. The computer system is the main part of computer forensics, either the computer as the target, the one used in committing the crime or in the possession of a witness to a crime involving technology. The task force will also require various specialized software for performing tasks such as mobile forensics to analyze crimes organized by use of mobile phones. Generally, the task force will require high-tech tools for analyzing computer evidence, coordinating strategies and procedures to deal with cyber-crime. Also, the task force will require specially trained personnel and dedicated forensic laboratory equipment are often essential in examining and retrieving evidence that is needed for prosecution and contained in a computer’s hard drive.
Various systems such forensics labs are important because cyber-crime is a very complicated form of crime. It requires highly skilled personnel and equipment so that evidence can be analyzed to bring criminals to justice. It is one of therefore, a very vital step to have the right cyber forensic examiners or digital crime analysts, who must be skilled, certified, court acceptable and proficient with the newest digital forensic examination methods and new advanced investigation software. Lack of specialized systems for cyber-crime task forces, implies that it becomes difficult for them to prove that the accused person is guilty of committing a given cyber-crime.
Cyber Crime Legislation
In order to pursue cyber criminals, various legislations and provisions need to be developed in St. Louis County to increase the local law enforcement capacity for investigating cyber-crime. The first legislation should be enabling and fostering sharing of information between the private and public sectors, and in between different private sector entities themselves. Sharing information efficiently is a vital and essential part of cyber security measures today. Sharing of information is helpful to local law enforcement personnel as it allows them to disable offending software or warn the public of impeding cyber-attacks. The next legislation should deal with cyber supply chain security; this is because supply chain security is one of the biggest holes in the United States cyber system particularly hardware and crucial infrastructure constituents. Hardware security problems are very difficult to handle; this is because the only possible way of solving a hardware security problem is by replacing the piece of offending software (Gutmann, 2002, pg.275). For instance, successful building of malicious hardware into a chip can enable the initiation of a hardware attack, which can be act in an extensive variety of ways. A malicious circuit that has been secretly placed in a GPS chip can be designed to launch an attack only when the chip’s location is at a specified geographical zone after a specified date. Such a risk should be mitigated devoid of ruining the global system that keeps technology affordable and easily accessible to people. Effective cyber legislation in this case should launch a nonprofit body whose function will be evaluation and accrediting of supply chain security of technology companies. Such legislation will make the work of cyber-crime task force less challenging.
In the case of a cyber-attack, currently there are no outlined rules to direct businesses on the steps they can take to come up with self-defense mechanisms in the cyber domain. The cyber-crime task force in St. Louis County cannot combat all cyber-crimes in the county; therefore, it is necessary to come up with legislations that will allow cyber self-defense. This would allow the citizens of the county to be involved in fighting against cyber-crime. There is also a need for a provision, which allows development of more IT leaders having cyber security expertise. Such IT leaders can easily help in combatting cyber-crime attacks in their area of work. A provision for awareness, education and training of the residents of St. Louis County would be very effective in reducing the number of cyber-crimes, as they can be made aware of some of the ways they can protect themselves from cyber-criminals. Informed citizens can also make better decisions when faced with cyber-crime incidences and are better positioned in providing evidence in case they witness a cyber-crime. This is another provision that would be effective in reducing of the cybercrime task force workload.
These legislations should be passed at the county legislature.
Apart from the considerations given above, there are other factors to be considered when building a cyber-crime task force. National legislation regarding setting up of such a task force is a key factor that needs to be considered, it provides the legal basis under which such a task force may or may not be set up. Internal orders governing the functioning of the unit make up another factor that needs to be considered since such orders will determine whether the task force runs smoothly or not. Premises of the task force, is another issue that should be considered because such a task force will require specialized building where they can carry out their activities without intrusion or disturbance.
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Sullivan, L. E. (2005). Encyclopedia of law enforcement: 2. Thousand oaks: Sage.
Sammons, J. (2012). The basics of digital forensics: The primer for getting started in digital forensics. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Syngress.
Gutmann, P. (2002). Cryptographic security architecture: Design and verification. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Casey, E., & Altheide, C. (2010). Handbook of digital forensics and investigation. Burlington, Mass: Elsevier Academic Press.
Schmalleger, F., & Pittaro, M. (2009). Crimes of the Internet. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.