International policing agencies are now working together in order to create a more globalized approach to dealing with the critical issue of cyber crime. This comes after the third cyber crime conference which focused on assessing potential threats, co-operation models and the legal and practical challenges facing institutions such as INTERPOL and Europol.
One of the issues facing the 350 cyber specialists at the conference is the growing number of Malware attacks to an individual’s personal computer, tablet and smartphone. These kinds of attacks are hard to prevent, and can cause widespread disruption as most people’s personal IT equipment does not have the same level of security that most corporations enjoy. Even more worrying is that just by bringing an infected device into the workplace, an employee can quick compromise an entire corporation’s network.
Even more deadly is the latest development, now dubbed ‘Ransomware’, which is becoming a serious threat for both private citizens and corporations as hackers break through firewalls, steal or lock files and then threaten to destroy or reveal confidential information unless they are generously compensated for their crime. This kind of attack is hard to prevent and very costly not only financially, but in physical stress to the affected parties.
In the latest report, published by the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) on October 1st, experts point to the fact that many users rely on established mainstream security programs, often without buying the premium versions, and take no additional effort to ensure their personal online security.
In many cases this means that Malware can be installed and work effectively on an individual’s computer for an extended period of time until the relevant update is installed. This can not only compound the initial damage and breach of privacy, but also spread the program to other computers merely by the user’s day to day online activity.
Ability to Hide
According to a recent press release from INTERPOL, as internet use grows across the globe, many users are also finding new and inventive ways to hide their identity making enforcing civil and criminal law more difficult. While in most cases this is just so they can access the latest TV shows, movies and other content that is restricted only to residents of that country, the trend is allowing mentally unbalanced people, such as child pornographers, to freely move digitally around the globe and get paid for their criminal activities.
Setting a Framework
As a result of the discussions, both INTERPOL and Europol in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies are now planning to create a Joint Cybercrime Cooperation and Compatibility Taskforce to try and create a framework that will harmonize the often conflicting legal systems and find a way to combat the use of virtual currencies as a sophisticated for large criminal organizations to move and launder their money globally.
The Executive Director of the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), Noboru Nakatani, spoke recently about the changes “INTERPOL is committed to making innovation in policing a priority. All of us representing law enforcement, the private sector, governments and academia must work together to build a solid defense against the growing threat of cybercrime.”
The Next Steps
The key recommendations that came out of this meeting of ‘cyber minds’ is that there is a need for a special focus on addressing key issues such as ‘bulletproof hosting’ and other laundering services as well as an increase in the resources allocated to both identifying and combating the ever increasing threat presented by cyber crime.
While many corporations spend millions or even billions protecting their intellectual property, law enforcement agencies have neither the equipment nor the budget to hire the top programmers needed to effectively combat these threats. Despite these constraints, there is still an effort being made to organize prevention strategies and raise the awareness of the average user of just how vulnerable they are.
“The last 12 months have shown some remarkable successes by law enforcement in the fight against cybercrime, “ said Nakatani, “building upon these past successes, law enforcement has to continue pushing the boundaries of traditional policing and identify new ways to tackle this criminal phenomenon, despite the difficulties and the number of criminals involved. Further international cooperation with a wide range of actors is paramount for keeping the Internet safe from organized crime.”
Whether these steps are enough remains to be seen but it is good to know that law enforcement agencies are finally looking to address this growing issue and one that was far outside the purview considered when they were first established.