DTI funds fight against e-crime

The Department of Trade of Industry will today announce £4.5m in funding to tackle electronic crime in the retail trade, detect insurance fraud and study the use of digital certificates in ecommerce.

Part of the government’s Management of Information programme, it also includes £3.3m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. Participating companies will provide matching amounts, making a total of around £15m.

E-minister Patricia Hewitt, who will launch the project alongside a new website (, said: ‘Businesses are continually at risk from fraud and crime. Electronic systems can be vulnerable to hackers and other criminals. These projects will help to safeguard businesses.’

The website will offer advice to businesses on developing effective measures to counter fraud and improve the security of their electronic systems. It will target the financial, retail and distribution sectors of the economy.

Part of the project will look at the interoperability of digital certificates from a risk perspective, and develop a risk model covering issues such as financial liability.

It will also develop a specification that can be deployed as part of ecommerce technology and policy.

James Backhouse, director of the London School of Economics’ Computer Security Research Centre, said: ‘The aims of the project are to investigate interoperability of [digital certificates], not at the level of technology but at the level of institutions in order to understand the risks and liability.’

‘Accepting a certificate from a different certificate authority is like accepting a foreign passport – you have to decide whether you can accept it or not in a formalised way. We’re developing a risk model to do that for digital certificates,’ he added.

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