Garda member to lead operations at new EU cybercrime centre

15 Jan 2013

A detective inspector with An Garda Síochána has been appointed head of operations for Europol’s newly established European Cyber Crime Centre in The Hague.

Det Insp Paul Gillen is currently head of the Computer Crime Investigation Unit at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. He will take extended leave without pay from the Gardaí in order to take up his five-year contract, starting in February.

The role was advertised as an open competition. In addition to his domestic role, Gillen also chairs Europol’s European cybercrime training and education group [ECTEG] and is vice-chair of the EU cybercrime task force which represents all of the heads of cybercrime units in Europol member states.

He applied for the job and was chosen after a process that included an exam and an interview.

Co-operation between private sector and law enforcement

Gillen has constantly encouraged closer co-operation between the private sector and law enforcement over the past number of years, arguing that if businesses increase their reporting of cybercrime, then the Gardaí can have a greater knowledge of the nature and extent of the problem.

Speaking to about his appointment, Gillen said: “I think my stance on co-operation was a good selling point. I believe that without close co-operation between law enforcement, governments, academia and industry, we will not be able to adequately meet the challenge of cybercrime, payment card fraud and online child abuse.”

The European Cyber Crime Centre, or EC3 for short, is being positioned as the focal point in the EU’s fight against cybercrime. It is hosted by Europol, the European law enforcement agency, at its base in The Hague.

The EC3 website says the centre’s remit is to tackle three main areas of cybercrime: that committed by organised groups to profit from online fraud; crimes causing serious harm to victims, such as child sexual exploitation; and threats against critical infrastructure in the EU.

European Cyber Crime Centre revealed

The centre was formally unveiled last week by the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.

“By inaugurating the EC3, we send a signal to the cyber-criminals that we will come after them. And by ‘we’ I mean 27 Member States together with the EU institutions, as well as industry, academia and civil society. Never before has the EU responded in such a strong way,” she said at the launch.

Gillen added that during his tenure he would work to encourage greater harmony between the various stakeholders.

Over the years, Gillen has actively promoted Ireland as a leading centre for cybercrime investigation. In 2006, the Garda Síochána held two courses for European police in the field of tackling IT crime at its Templemore training centre.

He also played an instrumental role in setting up an MSc in forensic computing and cybercrime investigation for police officers from across Europe, which has been co-ordinated by University College Dublin.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, TD, congratulated Gillen on his appointment, calling it “a wonderful achievement and a great reflection not just on him personally but also on the Garda Síochána and indeed Ireland”.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic