Poland has become the latest country to join an international initiative to tackle the growing problem of cyber-crime, such as payment fraud and malware.
Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency headquartered in The Hague, has announced that the country has deployed a cybercrime specialist to its Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, known as J-CAT.
The objective of J-CAT, launched in 2014, is to drive “intelligence-led, coordinated action against key cybercrime threats and targets by facilitating the joint identification, prioritisation, preparation and initiation of cross-border investigations and operations by its partners”. It tackles hi-tech crimes including malware and botnets; the facilitation of crimes, for example counter-antivirus services and money laundering; online fraud; and online child sexual exploitation.
Combatting a growing threat
J-CAT is housed within Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), which itself was set up the previous year. With Poland having enrolled, membership now comprises cyber liaison specialists from nine EU member states and six from non-EU countries, as well as 17 law-enforcement agencies.
Prior to Poland, the most recent of the EU’s 28 member states to enrol was Sweden. The country became a member of J-CAT in October 2018.
Reports suggest that global cybercrime costs victims hundreds of billions of euros per year. EC3’s annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), which reports on emerging threats and developments in cybercrime, in September 2018 described “cyber-attacks of an unprecedented scope and scale”.
Most cyber threats affecting European states continue to emanate from within Europe – either domestically, or from other European countries. The latest 72-page report identified, for example, that in respect of payment fraud Bulgaria and Romania – both EU member states – had a “key role”.
Europol lists J-CAT successes, including its involvement in “taking down” the Luminosity Link Remote Access Trojan (RAT), which allowed hackers remote control of a victims’ computers; and “dismantling” an organised crime group involved in banking fraud.
In a bid to boost awareness and collaboration with regional and local cyber police units from current J-CAT member countries, a programme of roadshows and webinars is underway. Two roadshows were held in December 2018 in the Netherlands, and this year has seen roadshows in Switzerland and Norway. Further roadshows will be held in Germany and the UK.
Four webinars on J-CAT are also planned for 2019, to raise awareness among law enforcement agencies about the Taskforce and how to cooperate with it. The first one was held in March in English, and close to 300 participants attended. The next three will be in German, French and Spanish over the coming months.
New kids on the block
Mariusz Lenczewski, head of the Cybercrime Bureau of the Polish National Police Headquarters, said: “Fighting cyber-crime every day becomes more and more difficult. Only close international co-operation will allow law enforcement agencies to succeed in this fight. We are happy that we could become a member of the J-CAT and undertake new challenges alongside specialised experts from around the world.”
Patrick Corder, Head of the Swedish Cybercrime Centre, said: “To answer the rapidly growing numbers of cyber-crimes, Sweden has joined the J-CAT. We look forward to contributing to the taskforce and being part of the important work to counter high-tech crime, online sexual exploitation of children and payment fraud. The combined effort of the countries involved, the constant support of EC3 and their allies in the private sector are all key components in a successful answer to the challenges posed by this complex, borderless criminality.”