Cecilia Malmström, EU commissioner for home affairs has opened the European Cybercrime Centre (EC³) at Europol in The Hague.
The centre, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, will act as a focal point for expertise and coordination in the European fight against cyber crime in collaboration with Europol.
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“Ever since we adopted the Internal Security Strategy more than two years ago, I was determined that we urgently had to set up a European Cybercrime Centre,” said Malmström.
“Some people might ask why we need a cyber crime centre in Europe. The short answer is to protect the open and free internet,” she said.
While the increasing use of new technologies and web-based services is good, said Malmström, this trend is providing growing opportunities for criminals.
“Our challenge is to make cyber space secure for citizens and companies. Our response is EC³,” she said.
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The centre’s mission is to help EU member states dismantle and disrupt cyber crime networks. It will also develop detection and forensic tools for cyber crime investigators and provide specialised threat assessments, as well as offer more focused training for law enforcement, judges and prosecutors.
Initially, the centre is to focus on fraud, intrusion and internet-related child abuse.
“Together with the US, we recently launched a Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online. Forty-eight countries so far have agreed to increase their efforts to fight this horrible crime. I count on EC³ to be an important facilitator for the EU in this work,” said Malmström.
The key to success of the EC³ is cooperation, she said, not only in the law enforcement community, but with a broad range of partners from other EU agencies as well as computer emergency response teams, the private sector and the research community.
“By inaugurating the EC³, we send a signal to the cyber criminals that we will come after them. And by 'we' I mean 27 member states together with the EU institutions, as well as industry, academia and civil society. Never before has the EU responded in such a strong way,” said Malmström.
Rob Cotton, CEO of global information assurance firm NCC Group, said it is essential law enforcement operates internationally because cyber criminals and the businesses they attack operate internationally.
“As a global company we can attest to how challenging – and crucial – a multinational counterforce can be to deliver. The European Cybercrime Centre is a great step in catching up with the perpetrators and delivering that coordinated response,” said Cotton.
However, Cotton said it was also essential for a coordinated response to be followed up by serious repercussions for cyber criminals, who cause huge financial losses to business each year.