Tech-savvy criminals are using information technology to commit serious crimes, causing great loss to businesses, especially banks, experts told a forum on high-tech crime held in HCM City on July 25.

Vu Quoc Khanh, director of the Ministry of Information and Communications' Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT) categorised high-tech criminals into two groups.

One group attacks servers through the distributed denial of service, or DDoS, and distributing viruses while the other uses computers to hack into financial and banking systems and send advertisements to cheat customers, solicit funds and launder money.

This kind of crime threatens economic and political security and the safety of national infrastructure and government agencies. In more advanced countries, disaster is likely if criminals take control of information networks.

In Vietnam, although high-tech crimes are mostly for economic and financial gain, protecting networks remains a top priority, Khanh added.

Nguyen The Thinh, head of system security at the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, said the banking sector is a favourite target for hi-tech criminals.

They often steal customers' information online to transfer money into their own accounts.

Another area of interest for them is online securities trading.

Bach Khoa Internet Security, which provides internet security and e-government solutions, studied 20 banks and reported the banking system was riddled with security holes.

Most banks did not have systems to regularly monitor internet access or spot strange occurrences. They lacked a self-reliant and professional division to monitor security.

Thinh said that besides the banks' efforts, customers' awareness of the need to keep information secure is also very important.

Khanh said to keep the banking sector safe, a legal framework that complies with international law should be created.

Banks need to have skilled IT staff, raise awareness among employees and customers, increase the use of digital signatures, and ensure internal security, he added./.