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Scotland Yard police pinched by Microsoft

Police fighting e-crime have a hard enough time, but now they are losing experts to better paying tech companies.

police helmet

Police carrying the fight against cyber criminals have a hard time recruiting the best technical experts, as well as facing the problem of losing them to tech companies.

This was according to F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen, who told IT PRO that Scotland Yard recently lost two policemen to Microsoft.

He said that this was a real challenge that law enforcement around the world had to deal with, and was most likely due to the level of pay that was being offered.

Hypponen said that the IT sector was always growing and had a constant need to recruit more experts, and could offer better salaries.

"This is a bad development for all of us as there is less force for us to push against the bad guys, and we can't get them behind bars as effectively as we want to," he said.

However, he said that companies like F-Secure already worked with law enforcement around the world, including the Metropolitan Police, and that the level of expertise wasn't a problem.

"There are great experts working in these groups, but what really is missing is the lack of international cooperation," he said.

"One single country's laws don't apply because these criminals and victims are around the world," he added. "We really need a better way for countries to cooperate around the world. These are global problems, as on the net there are no borders."

When it came to the bad guys, Hypponen said that the biggest change he has seen in the last 20 years was the nature of the virus writers themselves.

"It has been a pretty wild ride to see the early problems of the 80s and 90s that weren't really serious, and how much they've changed," he said.

Security firms and law enforcement now have to deal with what Hypponen believed were well-organised criminals with their own offices, company structures and technological developments.

Cyber criminals were rarely caught, but there were successes - although Hypponen showed frustration that when they were caught some didn't receive the punishments he believed they deserved.

He noted the example of a 21-year old man who was the main coder for an international gang. He was already on parole for other drug and theft-related crimes, and confessed to writing viruses.

"You would think that he would actually go to jail as he was caught for writing viruses and getting paid for it," he said.

"His sentencing was about a year ago, and he received 180 hours of community service. They didn't even confiscate his computer, just the hard drive. That boggles the mind."

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