Europe adopts new cybercrime agenda

Cyber patrols and Internet investigation teams are to be introduced to reinforce a new EU strategy against cybercrime.

Dec 11, 2008
By Paul Jacques

Cyber patrols and Internet investigation teams are to be introduced to reinforce a new EU strategy against cybercrime.

The European Union has adopted the European Commission’s strategy on cyber-crime, and called for better cooperation between businesses and the police.

The strategy proposes a series of operational measures, such as cyber patrols, joint investigation teams and remote searches to become part of the fight against cybercrime over the next five years.

The strategy also introduces concrete steps for closer cooperation and information exchange between law enforcement authorities and the private sector.

EU member states have recognised that cybercrime is a growing threat to societies. Viruses facilitating stealing information from personal computers, spam, identity theft and child abuse images are increasingly widespread.

According to recent reports, the amount of images of sexually abused children available online has quadrupled in the last five years and half of all Internet crime involves the production, distribution and sale of child abuse images.

The European Commission has cooperated closely with the French Presidency and member states in the elaboration of a series of practical measures to fight cybercrime.

The new strategy recommends reinforcing partnerships between the police and the private sector by better knowledge sharing on investigation methods and trends in cybercrime. It also encourages both parties to respond quickly to information requests, resort to remote searches, cyber patrols for online tracking of criminals and joint investigations across borders.

The strategy also calls for the setting up of an early warning alert platform where reports of crime committed on the Internet in EU member states, such as the posting of illegal content, would be pooled for cross-checking by Europol. The Commission has earmarked 300,000 euro for Europol to implement the platform.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot highlighted the importance of this strategy and said: “The strategy encourages the much needed operational cooperation and information exchange between the member states. It gives a shared responsibility to the Commission, the member states and other stakeholders to introduce the different measures. If the strategy is to make the fight against cybercrime more efficient, all stakeholders have to be fully committed to its implementation. We are ready to support them, also financially, in their efforts.”

The Information Security Awareness Forum (ISAF) has welcomed the news.

Dr David King, ISAF’s chairman, said: “This is excellent news as the five-year rolling plan will give businesses, as well as the police and other enforcement agencies, a solid chance to get to grips with this increasingly oppressive Internet-related problem.”

According to Dr King, the plan is to create an early warning system for firms to report on cybercrimes and share this information with other businesses, as well as the relevant law enforcement agencies, including Europol, the European inter-police force agency.

The Information Security Awareness Forum (ISAF) was founded in February of this year as a cross-industry initiative by the ISSA-UK to formally raise awareness of information security.

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