Thursday, 4 June 2015

New Enforcement Tactics Turning the Tide on Cybercrime

One hundred years from now, the history books may record the explosion of cybercrime as one of the most significant events of the early 21st century.  In its infancy, cybercrime has evolved so rapidly that law enforcement has struggled to keep up however the tide may be turning...  A recent report from the BBC highlights how law enforcement is utilising new tactics, based on infrastructure rather than people, to put a stop to the lawlessness.

Infrastructure is key to successful cyber-criminal activity.  According to experts, criminals would not have the capacity to wreak havoc without a network of hijacked computers they use to complete their work around the globe.  The problem faced by law enforcement is that traditional investigative and prosecutorial tools that work within the confines of a particular geopolitical territory do not work on an international scale.  There is too much bureaucracy and red tape involved to go after individual criminals so, instead, law enforcement is going after their tools.

The BBC reports on a number of raids and other enforcement efforts that have already proven fruitful.  One example was a cooperative effort in April among the UK's National Crime Agency, the FBI and Europol mounted against the Beebone botnet.  They successfully seized a group of domains being used by cyber criminals to run traffic through infected machines.  Without their domains, the criminals had no further control over their networking capabilities.

An essential component of the new infrastructure-based law enforcement in Europe is the EC's Advanced Cyber Defence Centre.  The centre consists of nine different call centres located throughout Europe – centres that receive information about compromised machines and networks from Internet service providers.  They then call the owners with information about cleaning and securing those machines and networks.

Making Cyber Crime Harder

Early indications suggest that the new tactics are successful in slowing down cyber criminals, if not putting them out of business altogether.  It is a matter of making cybercrime harder and, as a result, less profitable to engage in.  What remains to be seen now is whether focusing on infrastructure can be an effective long-term solution for fighting cybercrime.  It may turn out to be that way, but no one expects criminals to just lay down without a fight.

Just as the data centre adapts by developing better security protocols after a major attack, criminals develop new ways of getting around law enforcement efforts.  For every sinkhole or dustbin created by a cybercrime investigation unit, successful criminals will find a way to work around them.  It is a cat and mouse game that seemingly never ends.

The key for law enforcement is to work harder than ever to make cybercrime harder than ever.  This means constantly developing new strategies, constantly training & retraining cyber experts and unparalleled cooperation between international law enforcement agencies.  It would be a shame to turn the tide now, only to surrender ground back to the cyber criminals.

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