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INTERPOL: International police coordination required to combat global cyberthreats

News Analysis
Jul 13, 20213 mins

Senior police officials from 167 countries endorse INTERPOL proposals to enhance transnational police cooperation to combat global cyber-related crime and corruption.

United Kingdom / UK police officer using a computer, targeting cybercrime
Credit: Hirurg / Getty Images

Senior police officials from 167 countries have endorsed proposals set out by The International Criminal Police Organization (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.

Cyberthreats evolving in line with COVID-19 pandemic

At INTERPOL’s 16th annual conference for NCBs last week, some 300 senior police officials heard how cyberthreats are changing in lockstep with the COVID-19 pandemic, with Chainalysis data indicating that ransomware activities generated $350 million in 2020, a 311% 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 maximize 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% 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 cyberthreats. “Law enforcement agencies must understand that globally there will always be new ways and means of committing crime using cyberspace 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 capitalize 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 cyberthreats through international law enforcement

Speaking to CSO, cybersecurity 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 cybercrime. “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. The lines between nation-states and criminal groups are becoming increasingly blurred, and therefore cybercrime attribution is often difficult. Cybercrime has become a global threat and the more groups of all kinds that can work together to help combat it, the better.”

Evolving global cyberthreats 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 emphasize the need for multinational, preventative policing efforts moving forward, Ventura adds. “Emerging cyberthreats will precipitate massive economic and societal damage, and international efforts need to be recalibrated to account for this new reality,” she explains. “The more collaboration there is globally, the better the chances of combatting cybercrime worldwide.”

UK Editor

Michael Hill is the UK editor of CSO Online. He has spent the past 8 years covering various aspects of the cybersecurity industry, with particular interest in the ever-evolving role of the human-related elements of information security. A keen storyteller with a passion for the publishing process, he enjoys working creatively to produce media that has the biggest possible impact on the audience.

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