Police sound alarm over crime on the Internet

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The Independent Online
Terrorist organisations and top criminals are starting to use the Internet to send secret messages and carry out fraud and counterfeiting, according to a new police study.

The 10-month study by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) uncovered evidence of growing involvement of environmental extremists, and European terrorists - particularly Fascist groups - who were found to use the system to send out messages and information about potential targets. To counter the threat, police are to recommend setting up Britain's first national Internet squad and a review of existing laws to allow detectives to intercept electronic messages.

Dr Neil Barrett, an expert on computer hacking and "information warfare", speaking yesterday at a conference into Internet crime, predicted that organisations such as the IRA and Animal Liberation Front would soon take advantage of the technology. "It's such an obvious and logical next step, it's something we anticipate," he said. He added that terrorists of the future might use computer viruses to cripple emergency and public service rather than bombs.