Senior police officials from 167 countries have endorsed proposals set out by The International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to enhance international police cooperation to combat transnational cyber-related crime and corruption.
The measures seek to boost the role of National Central Bureaus (NCBs) as a gateway between INTERPOL and frontline police, including increasing operational and investigative support and extending INTERPOL’s I-24/7 secure communications network to national police and border control agencies.
Cyber threats evolving in line with COVID-19 pandemic
At INTERPOL’s 16th annual conference for NCBs last week, some 300 senior police officials heard how cyber threats are changing in lockstep with the COVID-19 pandemic, with Chainalysis data indicating that ransomware activities generated $350 million in 2020, a 311 per cent increase compared to 2019.
INTERPOL secretary general Jürgen Stock said, “A global strategy in response to the threat of ransomware is critical – one where we successfully build trust, see effective exchange of data, and maximise rapid operational assistance to law enforcement agencies.
"In spite of the pandemic, the number of records entrusted to INTERPOL by NCBs over the past year has increased by 10 per cent to reach a record 115 million, demonstrating their role at the heart of our global early warning system.”
On July 12, INTERPOL members met with key public and private partners at the INTERPOL High-level Forum on Ransomware to discuss ongoing approaches for mitigating ransomware threats. Commenting ahead of the meeting, head of the Jamaican NCB and police superintendent Paulette Green spoke of the vital need for transnational efforts to address global cyber threats.
“Law enforcement agencies must understand that globally there will always be new ways and means of committing crime using cyber space and that they should continually develop strategies to properly deal with these issues. Cyber-related evidence is time-sensitive and when investigating any crime law enforcement must be able to capitalise on such opportunities as soon as possible.”
The metropolitan (Met) police’s seizure of £180 million worth of cryptocurrency linked to international money laundering in London this week serves as a timely reminder of the importance of effective policing against global cyber criminal activity.
The seizure was made following intelligence received by the Met’s economic crime command about the transfer of criminal assets. It is the largest seizure of its kind in the UK, beating the previous record set when the Met confiscated £114 million of cryptocurrency last month. The investigation is ongoing.
Addressing global cyber threats through international law enforcement
Speaking to CSO, cyber security expert and founder of the UK Cyber Security Association Lisa Ventura reflects on the significance of INTERPOL’s intention to strengthen coordinated, transnational policing efforts to combat modern cyber crime.
“With the rise in cyber criminality – including high-profile ransomware campaigns over the last year and the growth of phishing email attempts since the pandemic hit – an international, coordinated response to policing is crucial to staying one step ahead of cyber-criminals," she said.
"The lines between nation-states and criminal groups are becoming increasingly blurred, and therefore cyber crime attribution is often difficult. Cyber crime has become a global threat and the more groups of all kinds that can work together to help combat it, the better.”
Evolving global cyber threats such as attacks on critical infrastructure, electronic espionage, bulk data interception, and offensive operations intended to project power by the application of force in and through cyberspace only emphasise the need for multi-national, preventative policing efforts moving forward, Ventura added.
“Emerging cyber threats will precipitate massive economic and societal damage, and international efforts need to be recalibrated to account for this new reality,” she explained. “The more collaboration there is globally, the better the chances of combatting cyber crime worldwide.”