The European Cybercrime Centre officially opened its doors this month based at the European Police Office in the Netherlands. According to a BBC report cybercrime in europe is estimated to cost €1.5 billion. The EC3′s focus is on illegal online activities carried out by organized crime groups — especially attacks targeting e-banking and other online financial activities, online child sexual exploitation and crimes that affect the critical infrastructure and information systems in the European Union.
Its five main functions are:
- Data Fusion – collecting and processing information on cybercrime
- Operations – Supporting investigations and facilitating law enforcement across the EU member states
- Strategy – Producing threat analysis, trends, forecasting etc.
- R&D/training – working with European police (CEPOL), raising awareness and developing new forensic tools
- Outreach – working with the private sector and relevant industry bodies to share information
I see this as a really good initiative particularly as individual countries in Europe are often left to their own devices to fight cybercrime which may have its roots elsewhere. In addition, a common centre will also increase collaboration between all the countries and allow them to share information. Information sharing has become one of the key weapons against cybercrime.
Of the five functions listed, I believe the last one on outreach is going to be the most significant. Information sharing between government agencies may happen to an extent, but we all need to share information including the private sector. And, although this is something that many countries in Europe including the UK have tried to put in place, a central unit in Europe that works closely with the private sector to understand the threat landscape and share data is definitely a big step in the right direction.