World’s cyber police, sleuths and crime experts converge in Cork

14 Sep 2012

International police, cybercrime experts and leading security organisations are in Cork this week to develop and discuss technologies and techniques to battle the growing threat of cybercrime.

Attendees from Europol, the European Police Agency, the European Cybercrime Task Force, the New South Wales Police Cybersquad and An Garda Siochana are among those participating at the event which is being held by the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA) at cloud security player Trend Micro’s Cork operation.

A memorandum of understanding between the organisations will be signed to underline the commitment to collaborating in the fight against cybercrime.

The industrialisation of cybercrime

The past two years have seen the industrialisation of cybercrime, where criminals can draw on an entire supporting infrastructure of criminal service providers – from web hosting to generating credit card verification data.

With more personal information available on the web than ever before, there has been a sharp increase of targeted cyber attacks, so-called spearphishing. Europol expects these threat scenarios to evolve rapidly.

“During the past 24 months, critical infrastructure in countries around the world have been under daily cyber attack from both organised criminal networks and state-sponsored entities,” said John Lyons, the chief executive of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance.

“Cybercrime is notoriously difficult to tackle given the international structure and capabilities of some of the criminal networks we see in operation. It used to be inherently difficult to combine international efforts to fight cybercrime.  

“Project 2020, being discussed here today, will deliver information and recommendations that raise awareness amongst governments, businesses and citizens to help them prepare their defences against future threats. The project will deliver policy briefs and white papers on evolving threat scenarios, and establish a monitoring mechanism to assist organisations that combat cybercrime,” he added.

New criminals, new victims, new threats

As well as the current threats, future threats are expected from emerging countries that to date have not been as technologically advanced.

“With two-thirds of the world yet to join the internet, we can expect to see new criminals, new victims and new kinds of threats,” says Dr Victoria Baines, strategic adviser on cybercrime at Europol.

Last year, Trend Micro played a significant role in FBI’s Operation Ghost Click, which brought down a large cybercrime ring that had manipulated internet websites and advertising to generate at least US$14m in illicit fees. Using malware known as DNSChanger, the scammers redirected users to rogue servers, which sold fake pharmaceuticals and security products among other items.  

The concerted action against an entrenched criminal gang proved very successful and broke apart the biggest cyber-criminal gang in history.

Seven people were arrested at the time through multinational law enforcement co-operation based on solid intelligence supplied by Trend Micro and other industry partners.

More than 4m victims in more than 100 countries have been rescued from the malign influence of this botnet and an infrastructure of more than 100 criminal servers has been dismantled with minimal disruption to the innocent victims.

“As one of the founding members of the ICSPA, we are committed to supporting the work of this international organisation,” said Anthony O’Mara, senior vice-president, Trend Micro, EMEA.

“Concerted action and a collaborative approach is required internationally to tackle cyber-criminal activity, which is becoming more sophisticated and more widespread. This is a global problem and requires an integrated solution across all countries,” O’Mara said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years