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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foul play continues in cyber cafe wars

Foul play continues in cyber cafe wars

ANOTHER case of internet fraud has been uncovered, but the provider Camnet is demanding

the victim pay the full cost - nearly $1000.

Bill Herod, adviser to Khmer Internet Development Services (KIDS), said that in the

latest case a Camnet customer has been billed for 300 hours internet time that he

never used.

Camnet acknowledges that the man most likely had his password stolen for his internet

account, which was then used by commercial operators such as internet cafes to buy

internet time which they onsold to customers. But they say that it is his responsibility

to look after his password and the company cannot be expected to pick up the tab.

Camnet spokesman Koy Kim Sea said they were prepared to arrange a monthly payment

plan and recalculate the total cost at the lowest possible rate but they could not

just cancel the debt.

"We have sympathy for him. We have changed the rate to the most advantageous

one for him," he said.

Kim Sea acknowledged the case highlighted a growing problem with stolen passwords,

particularly with the increasing number of internet cafes around Phnom Penh which

are all trying to compete on price.

Herod said the current $3 an hour standard price was very hard to maintain as a commercial

proposition, particularly if the cafes were paying market rents and fair wages. (At

least one cyber cafe charges only $2.50 an hour and gives away bananas and lollies

to customers.)

Herod said though the internet signal could be split between several computers it

took the sole income from one of them just to pay the connection fee while the overheads

have to come out of the rest of the computers.

He said it was possible to survive commercially if there was good turnover and a

large number of computers were being used at the same time, but for the smaller operators

he suggested it would be difficult and it could be tempting to resort to underhanded


"Honest vendors are feeling the squeeze as are the people from whom the accounts

are stolen," he said.

Meanwhile Kim Sea said Camnet was working hard to try to find a way to cut off the

unscrupulous operators.

He said they now required internet cafes to register and provide phone details for

their businesses. Any operator who is found using a stolen password would be cut

off and subject to financial penalties.

He said they were also looking at ways in which they could trace to a specific phone

illegal password use.

He said it was possible to have a system in which if the same password is used to

log on at two different locations simultaneously an alert was raised at Camnet, but

this was not really practical.

He said many companies have several workers using the internet at the same time quite

legitimately, which would just result in a lot of false alarms.



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