Interpol offers help in the battle against cybercrime
Thursday, August 20, 2015
For police departments around the world, cybercrime has become yet another addition to their workload — and not all are equipped to handle it. Lack of resources is an issue, but a lack of awareness is also preventing effective cybercrime fighting. There is a huge knowledge gap between our crime fighters and the increasingly complex nature of cybercrime.
However, Interpol is looking to bridge that gap in the battle against cybercrime. And judging by Interpol's recent activities, their focus is intensifying on that front. With Interpol's vast network and resources, it makes perfect sense that they are acting as agents of change for an issue that has become a major concern.
Federal agencies have set aside funds and created special units to combat cybercrime, but Interpol's actions will have a more far-reaching effect. Their network will pave the way for a global alliance against cybercrime, and the integrated resources will make it easier to apprehend perpetrators — at least that's the goal.
Interpol's recent Darknet training session in Singapore has revealed the need for stronger alliances and better resources. The new generation of criminals and terrorists is far more resourceful, and the crime is more widespread than what we once thought. To catch them, one has to think like them.
Think Frank Abagnale ("Catch Me If You Can"), and you will get the picture. As one of the biggest con men in his generation, Abagnale eventually consulted with the FBI and helped them fight financial fraud.
Of course, that doesn't mean we hire all the terrorists in the world, but it is definitely time to think outside the box and infuse new blood into law enforcement agencies. In the age of technology, it's hardly a surprise the nature of crime has become technical as well.
As strange as it sounds, crime seems to pay rather well, and criminals have access to superior technology than the crime fighters themselves. Quite a quandary, as Interpol has pointed out.
So now Interpol’s Cyber Research Lab has employed hackers and hardcore computer enthusiasts to help them in their mission to fight the new wave of crime. What they have created is a series of untraceable websites that are invisible to search engines as well as law enforcement agencies.
This private Darknet network simulates the technology that cybercriminals and terrorists apply in order to avoid detection. These sites form the basis of the new training program that Interpol is promoting. With a simulated marketplace and private cryptocurrency, they are recreating the virtual "underground" where nefarious activities take place.
The program will help law enforcement officers identify the various methods and strategies applied by criminals and organized crime networks. The five-day course involves officers sifting through the virtual illegal marketplace and learning how to take them down. They act as buyers and sellers of drugs, guns and other contraband by learning more about Tor and Bitcoin, technologies that run the illegal online marketplaces.
The session was quite a revelation. Demonstrations showed it is really not that hard to set up an untraceable website using Darknet techniques. With the right knowledge and technology, readily available software and encrypted communications, all illicit operations can be hidden from law enforcement agencies and search engines. It's so easy the Darknet has become the preferred playground for crime networks and criminals for their nefarious activities. A scary thought for sure.
The trial of "Silk Road" founder Ross Ulbricht and U.S. Justice Department's takedown of a secret forum known as "Darkode" are two Darknet cases that are good examples of how better resources can help. Though these are considered successes, they are rare and even then investigators have admitted the network is too large to apprehend all involved.
Despite hundreds of man-hours dedicated to bring these organizations down, law enforcement officials have only managed to maim these underground activities a bit. They are far from complete neutralization, which is why Interpol's training is so relevant today.
This is the new frontier for the law enforcement agencies to explore. They need the better resources and emerging technologies to help them combat this new wave of crime, a fact that should be duly noted by the powers that be.
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