States must harmonize cybercrime efforts: EU Police Academy conference

Latvia’s State Police (VP) law enforcement agency hosted the  European Police College (CEPOL) cyber-crime conference in its role at the Presidency of the Council of the EU in Jūrmala last week, where it was agreed that more harmonization of effort and communication among member states is imperative to fight the global threat of online criminal activity.

The Interior Ministry reported Monday that the conference ‘Cyber-crime – the Strategic Level’ took place from last Wednesday through Friday for the purpose of strengthening cooperation and coherence among member-state police agency anti-cybercrime efforts.

The conference was also held to encourage public-private partnership and cooperation with Eastern Partnership nations and EU candidate-member in their fight against online crime.

Opening the conference, Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis stressed that “both private individuals and companies, as well as the state as a whole suffers from cybercrime.”

In light of the global character of its threat, the minister in charge of Latvia’s law enforcement sector went on to envision “a special role in the fight against cybercrime for cooperation and effective contact amongst states and their respective law enforcement agencies” as cybercrime “targets not just private property but also the security of the state.”

On his part CEPOL director Dr Ferenc Bánfi echoed the warning that law enforcement agencies must not work in isolation in the fight against cybercrime.

“The complicated struggle with cybercrime makes us realize broad and various action plans, techniques and methods, thereby rapidly increasing the need for more training,” the head of the EU’s central police academy and training institution said. He added that training encourages the very cooperation called for amongst them.

State Police Chief Ints Ķuzis pointed out that “online crime is a direct threat to human rights affecting people around the world.”

“Since it flaunts state borders, international action is essential. The fight against this kind of crime must be expanded so that law enforcement agencies in one country can effectively communicate with their counterparts elsewhere. The states’ law enforcement agencies must have training and base of technical knowledge to harmonize their battles against cybercrime in a globally compatible system,” Latvia’s top cop said.

The Police General cited about 400 cybercrimes registered with law enforcement in Latvia last year, but the figure cannot reflect the actual scope of cybercrime due to the massive anonymity, encryption, latency and devices accessing paid services, the lack of tools for online investigation, hacking skillsets and other unique characteristics of the internet.

In 2014 Latvia’s Information Technology Security Incident Response agency (CERT) recorded over 3,000 high-priority cases and almost a half-million low-priority cases. Overall, the scale and scope of cybercrime has been expanding rapidly.

Altogether 83 attendees, among them EU member-state experts and official representatives of various European Union bodies and their guests from the Eastern Partnership states of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as Turkey, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation and some private security service companies.

The conference also considered how to increase cooperation with the law enforcement authorities from the Eastern Partnership countries in solving and preventing cyber-crime. They discussed the challenges which impede successful investigation of crimes involving organized international criminal groups as well as on strategic objectives and priorities awaiting EU-level rulings.

In closing the conference set goals of improving criminal investigation methods, prevention, supporting practical cybercrime operations, cooperation and amending any necessary legislative frameworks. The potential offerings of the private sector must also be considered, forging direct contacts between law enforcement agencies and the relevant private security enterprises, including operative cooperation.

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