Europol to reveal cybercrime risk level

Risk assessment highlights danger areas

European law enforcement agency Europol on Friday will present its assessment of the threat posed by cybercrime, along with its strategy to tackle it.

"Cybercrime is borderless by nature -- this makes criminal investigations more complicated for law enforcement authorities," said Europol Director Rob Wainwright. "To effectively tackle cybercrime, adequate cross-border provisions are needed."

According to McAfee, global corporate losses to cybercrime are estimated at around €750 billion ($US1 trillion) per year. There are more than 150,000 viruses in circulation and around 148,000 computers are compromised each day. In many ways, the European Union is a victim of its own success. Because of its advanced Internet infrastructure, high number of Internet users and widespread use of electronic banking, it is one of the most infected areas in the world when it comes to computer viruses and malware. Hardware developments have also contributed to the rise in cybercrime with laptops, smartphones and games consoles all vulnerable to attacks.

Europol's Internet Facilitated Organised Crime Treat Assessment (iOCTA) findings cover a variety of different crimes committed online, including sexual violence and child sex abuse imagery, terrorist activities, attacks on electronic networks, fraud and identify theft. Each of these must be combated in a different way.

One of iOCTA 's main findings is the need for closer cross-border cooperation. Currently, Europol provides E.U. member states with investigative and analytical support on cybercrime through its cybercrime database. However the Internet Crime Reporting Online System (ICROS) and Internet & Forensic Expert Forum (IFOREX) are in development. These will provide centralized coordination of reports of cybercrime from national authorities, and host technical data and training for law enforcement.

The report also raises concerns about data security due largely to the growth in cloud computing. Europol questions whether security measures will be properly enforced by storage providers or understood by users. "The key to cloud computing's success will be whether the convenience of remote access will be matched by confidence in its security provisions," said Europol.

The iOCTA assessment also expresses concern about social networking, claiming that many Internet users are not sufficiently security-aware when using such sites. Statistics from security vendor McAfee show that 69 per cent of teenagers have included their physical location in updates on social networking sites. Concerns are being expressed over the willingness of Internet users to divulge their offline locations, as there is an obvious security risk run by those who clearly state that they have left their personal property unattended. However, social networking also offers opportunities to tackle online crime as the report says that "crowdsourcing" should be considered to gather intelligence on cybercrime from internet users.

Finally, the report identifies social engineering -- the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information -- as a key cybercriminal tool. Phishing and spoof websites are only the tip of the iceberg.

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Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
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