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New Approach to Snaring Cyber Hackers

Computer security software giant Symantec has announced a redesign of some of their computer security products that takes a proactive approach to snaring hackers. The company is the world's largest manufacturer of anti-virus software and has been at the center of the computer security issue for many years.

Securing personal computers and corporate files has always seemed to be a losing proposition. No matter how often companies like Symantec learn about new malware the "hacking community" always seems to be a step ahead. A BusinessWeek story on Symantec's new concept says that, "the strategy for computer security has remained largely the same: Companies and consumers erect the thickest walls they can around computers so the bad guys can't get in."

The aggressive cyber security specialists on Symantec's product development team have convinced the company to use its heft in the marketplace in an attempt to recruit computer users to participate in identifying the hackers so that law enforcement officials can go after them. The 2009 release of their annual Norton security software suite will ask customers to opt in on an information collection system that will record attempted security violations and forward the relevant data to a centralized site for authorities. Next year, the company plans to offer cash rewards for information leading to an arrest.

Symantec is not the only company getting aggressive about running down the hackers, it is simply the largest. There is a trend across the industry to try and combat hackers by finding them, regardless of their geographic location. Law enforcement personnel see this approach as essential.

"It's impossible to eradicate cybercrime from the top down," according to Assistant U.S. District Attorney Matthew A. Parrella, who is an example of the degree to which hacking has become a law enforcement issue. He heads the Computer Hacking & Intellectual Property unit in the Northern California office of the federal prosecution division. Figures from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, an FBI joint venture with a non-profit agency says the number of complaints rose 33% last year to 275,284.

Changes in recent years have made the ability to intercept and put a stop to hacking efforts more fruitful. One is the fact that computer security violations are essentially everywhere, so cooperation with foreign law enforcement professionals has improved. The second element is the number of career law enforcement personnel that have computer forensic degrees today. Criminal violations of computer security have proven to be so damaging that they are treated as serious white collar crimes.

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