Monday

15th Oct 2018

EU cyber-crime chief fears massive proliferation

  • Oerting: "It's a myth that it is impossible to beat the cyber criminals. It is difficult but not impossible" (Photo: Tambako the Jaguar)

Europe's new online crime centre faces an almost insurmountable task, its incoming chief Troels Oerting has said.

"There is no absolute security, it is a myth," Oerting, who is from January to run the European Cybecrime Centre - an offshoot of the EU's joint police body, Europol - told MEPs at a hearing in Brussels on Monday (17 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He noted that the anonymity of online crime is a major problem.

There are currently some 3.4 billion possible Internet Protocol (IP) addresses which assign numerical labels to computers and devices connected online and that number is set to increase exponentially.

"We will soon have 4.2 billion billion billion billion billion billion billion billion addresses. And the police need to find the owners of these [if there is an investigation]," Oerting said.

He added that more than 200 billion spam emails are being sent every day and that 46 new malicious codes aimed to steal online data are being created every second.

Foreign intelligence services are among the long list of culprits who increasingly use the Internet to steal data to gain inside advantages on trade. Activists, hackers and organised crime are also becoming more active.

Unlike conventional crimes such as cocaine smuggling, police are often unable to trace online crimes which are committed easily, quickly and invisibly. It can be hard to distinguish between a cyber attack by a "clever" teenager and one committed by a criminal or state organisation.

The way forward, said Oerting, is to create better legal norms and public awareness and to ensure that what is illegal in the "offline world" is also illegal in the online one.

He said his new centre will combat intrusion, fraud, and child sexual exploitation.

Child exploitation is also getting worse.

Oerting recently returned from one country which is unable to cope with the high number of cases in the field. He would not name the country, but said it has a two-year backlog.

The centre hopes to co-ordinate with member state authorities and other EU agencies to ensure they do not overlap on investigations.

It will post liaison officers to the European Commission and the European External Action Service as well as to EU agencies.

Oerting noted that funding remains a problem in some of the smaller EU member states where there is no budget to investigate online cross-border crimes.

"I hate to say it, but when we invite [people] to meetings about Europol investigations, half of the most critical countries don't come. They haven't got the money for travelling," he said.

Meanwhile, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs), even when faced with a court order, are now asking law enforcement agencies €25 for each IP address they help out with.

Oerting said child sexual abuse cases can entail thousands of IP addresses. "One country, again I won't tell which one, couldn't afford it. The host country didn't want to pay it themselves, we [Europol] paid it," he explained.

What about privacy?

For his part, Hiekle Hijmans, an official from the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), a Brussels-based EU agency, noted that authorities must ensure data protection rights are respected while tackling the problem.

"The fight against cyber crime often takes place in a pro-active preventive manner by trying to link individuals who are not yet suspected of crime," he said on the scattergun methods used by some police forces.

He pointed out that ISPs cannot be asked to carry out general monitoring of the personal information they store: "Systemic monitoring of content by the providers is highly intrusive."

Some member states, like France, allow police to use a "legalised Trojan horse" to spy on potential cyber criminals, Myriam Quemener, a French magistrate and cyber crime expert, said at the EU parliament hearing.

She noted that French police officers attempt to reach out online anonymously to make contact with criminals.

EU cyber directive 'nearly finished'

The EU executive will release a draft directive on cyber security in 2013, in the latest indication that the bloc is moving towards a harmonised online rulebook.

EU passport sales create 'proud Maltese citizens'

Malta says its 'Golden Visas' scheme attracts families that want to become "proud Maltese citizens". Meanwhile the sales to Russian nationals, and others, have generated over €700m in revenue.

Dutch refuse Polish arrest warrant over judicial fears

A court in Amsterdam has questioned the independence of the Polish judiciary - turning down a Polish request for a European arrest warrant over fears that the suspect would not a get a fair trial in Poland.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  2. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election
  3. EU-UK Brexit deal talks paused
  4. Macedonian parliament to vote on name change Monday
  5. Swedish opposition leader gives up on forming government
  6. Commission confirms: no record of Juncker speech seminar
  7. Ukraine splits from Russian orthodox church
  8. Polish doctor wins landmark pro-life case in Norway

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  2. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive
  3. It's time for the EU to stand up to transnational corporations
  4. Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money
  5. 'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy
  6. Brexit and sanctions at EU summit This WEEK
  7. EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants
  8. EU urged to seize assets of foreign hackers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us