More secure IT packages, a clearer legal framework and a 'Green Cross Code' for safe surfing are key to making the internet a safe place to do business.
These are the main recommendations in an e-crime discussion paper published by influential think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and parliamentary industry lobby group Eurim.
According to the report, businesses and government will not encourage the public to use new electronic services if they do not feel safe, with internet use already being held back by concerns over safety and trust.
"There is a real threat that perceptions of the internet as a dangerous place will at best inhibit growth and at worst destroy trust in electronic services," it said.
"A pro-active approach is required that creates the right balance of trust and caution: the electronic equivalent of not walking down a dark alley at night and not leaving purse or wallet unattended on the counter when you turn away.".
The Home Office intends to publish its e-crime strategy in the spring.
But the IPPR/Eurim paper, Partnership Policing for the Information Society, indicated that local police forces currently have no incentive to devote resources to e-crime because the national policing plan does not explicitly include it.
Local computer crime units in most police forces are inadequately funded, with many facing backlogs of investigations.
The report said IT suppliers and retailers should be encouraged to work together to include ready-to-use security packages, installation and support services to help small firms better secure their systems.
Secure systems should also be mandatory for publicly procured equipment and services, it said.
Among its recommendations, the report calls for a 'Green Cross Code' to provide advice and information on safe internet use and on what to do when cyber-crime is suspected.
It also suggests that training on basic security precautions should be added to computer courses, and good practice taught at all levels from schools and colleges to workplaces and lifelong learning centres.
Changes to laws - the Computer Misuse Act in particular - should also be introduced to make prosecutions easier, the report said. Currently some crimes, such as theft and impersonation, are legally defined in ways that make prosecution for electronic versions difficult or impossible.
The paper also called for reporting methods to be improved, along with the way intelligence on e-crime threats is gathered and analysed.
Vendors should focus on the benefits of strong security, rather than the fear and uncertainty from not having it
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