Hood: State a leader in cyber crime-fighting

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Mississippi has become an authority in the fight against cyber crimes, particularly crimes against children.
Attorney General Jim Hood, who spoke to a joint meeting of Corinth Rotary, Kiwanis and Civitans on Tuesday, was one of the nation’s first attorneys general to take on issues of Internet corruption, said Assistant District Attorney Arch Bullard in his introduction of Hood.
Awareness of dangers the Internet can pose to his own children – ages 15, 12 and 7 – prompted him to give more scrutiny to its traps and pitfalls, Hood said.
“Most of what I’ve done has been driven by what I’ve seen with them,” Hood said. “Nobody is policing the Internet but the attorneys general, and there’s child pornography out there, things to lure children and fraud.”
Through the Cyber Crime Unit in the Mississippi attorney general’s office there are staff members who monitor the Internet 24 hours a day for Internet crimes against children, he said.
The office also conducts public awareness campaigns and provides training to law enforcement agencies on combating Internet crimes, along with the computer technology to implement the training.
“Mississippi was first, and Florida about a week later, to get the technology that allows us to track downloads without a search warrant,” Hood said.
The experience the department has gained since it opened in January 2009 has made Hood a sought-after resource by law enforcement agencies in New York, California and Florida, among others, Bullard said.
Other work in the Cyber Crimes Unit involves financial crime.
“This nation loses billions of dollars each year through intellectual property theft,” Hood said. This includes illegal music and video downloads, but also counterfeit drugs, brake pads, contact lenses and many other types of merchandise.
The best security for individuals and businesses is to be eternally vigilant, monitoring children’s cellphones for text messages, Facebook pages, computer usage, and even protecting smart cellphones like Blackberrys and iPhones, as one listener commented.
“We’re trying to be more innovative in how we prosecute cases,” Hood said. “The law is moving at a snail’s pace while technology is moving at lightning speed.”
Hood, a Democrat from Chickasaw County, is seeking a third term as attorney general in this year’s elections. State Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson has announced his Republican candidacy for the office.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.