Law enforcement efforts are "ad hoc" and "ill-equipped to cope" with international cybercrime, security experts have warned in a new report.
The problem of cybercrime is likely to increase in the recession, according to the 'Virtual Criminology Report', released byMcAfee today.
Over-stretched police forces often lack the specialist skills such as digital forensics, which are required to effectively tackle cyber crime, claimed the report, which features input from academics, lawyers and law enforcement authorities from around the world.
The authors highlighted the way cybercrime operates across borders, with Russia and China becoming safe havens for hackers, while Brazil is one of the top three countries hosting zombie machines and botnets.
However, law enforcement agencies are often restricted to working within physical national boundaries and must rely on cooperation with international police forces to track criminals. This lack of coordinated effort between countries is hindering efforts to catch the "cyber kingpins" behind web scams, the report warned.
In the UK the government agreed in September to fund a specialist national e-crime unit, following several years of campaigning from businesses and the police themselves.
The Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) will now receive £7.4 million total funding over a three year period, to tackle crime and train officers
The report points out that this "is almost comparable to the £6.2 million the UK Ministry of Defence is reported to have spent on parties in 2007."
It is also dwarfed by the $155 million (£106 million) the US Department of Homeland Security budgeted for cyber security for 2008.
"Governments need to commit to funding the resources needed to combat cybercrime. Everyone must play their part in a global battle that has only just begun and will continue long into 2009 and beyond if it's not properly addressed," said Dave DeWalt, CEO and president of McAfee."
"Cybercriminals are exploiting the global recession by luring in susceptible victims through the promise of easy money. While governments and law enforcement bodies' attentions are diverted by the current economic crisis, the door is left open for cyber criminals to continue to target bank balances worldwide and to potentially damage the consumer trust needed to aid rapid recovery."