Lebanon to bolster measures against electronic crimes

Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi speaks during a press conference at the ministry in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, March 26, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon will move to bolster legal measures to deal with electronic crime, officials and experts vowed as they spoke at a conference held at the Beirut Bar Association Monday. Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi stressed the need to modernize the law in order to address the growing threat of cyber crime.

“We are in the process of finalizing a new draft-law that organizes the electronic sectors,” Qortbawi said, adding that the law will soon be passed to Parliament for their endorsement.

Qortbawi claimed that civil society members and various ministers were contributing to the draft-law, which replaces a much criticized proposal that was withdrawn last year.

Head of the Beirut Bar Association Nouhad Jabr called on the Lebanese public and private sectors to cooperate in order to create a national strategy capable of fighting cyber crime.

“Lebanese security forces should develop methods to curb the spread of cyber crime and help implement the much needed legal frameworks that help to fight such crime,” he said.

Jabr added that international cooperation is essential to bolstering security in the future.

Head of the Internal Security Institute, Ibrahim Basbous, said that Lebanon is facing a wave of new electronic challenges, including the Gauss computer virus that recently targeted its banking system.

Lebanese banks have recently upgraded their security systems software to fight the virus designed to spy on financial transactions.

The Gauss virus was first discovered back in August by Kaspersky Lab – a leading computer security firm.

According to the firm, the virus targets Lebanese and Arab bank accounts, as well as emails and social networking activity, in order to access confidential information.

Lebanese banks have invested millions of dollars to update the anti-virus programs, and have hired software companies to come up with solutions for the Gauss virus.

Banks say the virus does not pose a threat to their clients as the work stations operated by bank mangers do not have access to the Internet.

Some experts have suggested that the creators of the viruses developed the malicious programs at the behest of certain parties interested in uncovering suspicious banking transactions in Lebanon and other Arab countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 25, 2012, on page 5.




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