Kamphuis' impending confrontation with Holland's legal system may or may not set European Union precedents for defining (more accurately) cybercrime, investigating and arresting alleged cybercriminals, prosecuting them and then punishing the convicted.
But it could. The incident illustrates, for the umpteenth time, that even if the legal definitions of cybercrime have become more precise, the legal mechanisms for addressing cybercrime (ranging from vandalism to bank robbery) and various non-criminal disputes in cyberspace lag behind the technology and capabilities.
Difficulties in detecting cybercriminal activity frustrate vulnerable companies and individuals, as well as police and prosecutors. Pickpockets flee into alleys. The Internet is a labyrinth. Once detected, tracing the crime back to the criminal requires more than time and computer expertise, it often takes high-level political cooperation.
Cooperation between Holland and Spain is routine. Both are European Union members and NATO allies. However, South Korean businesses recently experienced a wave of criminal cyberattacks (to include theft of proprietary data) investigators tied to North Korean hackers.
Cooperation between North and South Korea to solve cybercrime is unlikely. Every other week, North Korea threatens South Korea with nuclear immolation.
Responsible citizens and governments worry that terrorists may acquire nuclear weapons. The Spamhaus incident demonstrated that a collection of highly skilled hackers can launch a cyberattack on a scale once believed to be the province of high-tech nation-states employing battalions of computer scientists. The hackers swamped Spamhaus servers with 300 billion data bits per second (300 gigabytes). Fifty gigabytes per second was the previous record.
North Korean hackers were attacking one of South Korea's strengths, its economy. Thus cyberwarfare adopts the tactics of cybercrime. Apparently cybercriminals are prepared to return the favor.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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