The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol is to host the recently launched international cyber crime taskforce – which includes the UK as a founding member.
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The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) – which is being piloted for six months – will co-ordinate international investigations with partners targeting key cyber crime threats and top targets.
These include underground forums and malware such as banking Trojans that have targeted financial sector institutions in Europe, US and elsewhere.
The taskforce will operate from secure offices in Europol’s HQ. Experts and analysts from the EC3 will assist the organisation.
Initiated by Europol's EC3, the EU Cybercrime Taskforce, the FBI and the NCA, the J-CAT is made up of cyber liaison officers from EU states, non-EU law enforcement partners and EC3.
Key contributors to the intelligence pool will be the EU member states through EC3, and other law-enforcement co-operation partners.
Austria, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US are part of the J-CAT. Australia and Colombia have also committed to the initiative.
Troels Oerting, head of the EC3, said that, for the first time in modern police history, a multilateral permanent cyber crime taskforce has been established in Europe to co-ordinate investigations against top cyber criminal networks.
“The aim is not purely strategic, but also very operational. The goal is to prevent cyber crime, to disrupt it, catch crooks and seize their illegal profits.
“This is the first step in a long walk towards an open, transparent, free – but also safe – internet. The goal cannot be reached by law enforcement alone, but will require a consolidated effort from many stakeholders in our global village.
“The J-CAT will do its part of the necessary ‘heavy-lifting’ and that work started today. I am confident we will see practical tangible results very soon,” said Oerting.
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J-CAT head Andy Archibald said that, because of the many challenges faced by law enforcement agencies with cyber criminals and cyber attacks, a comprehensive and collaborative approach is essential.
“The J-CAT will, for the first time, bring together a coalition of countries across Europe and beyond to co-ordinate the operational response to the common current and emerging global cyber threats faced by J-CAT members,” said Archibald.
“This is a unique opportunity for international law enforcement agencies to collectively share our knowledge to defend against cyber related attacks, and the UK’s National Crime Agency is proud to be a founding member."
EC3 is involved in cross-border cyber crime investigations and has seen a rapid increase in major international cases.
The J-CAT aims to add significant value to international law-enforcement co-operation, and to maximise the effectiveness of joint and coordinated actions.
The J-CAT has been charged with gathering data on specific criminal themes, from national repositories and from relevant government and private partners. It will transform this raw data into intelligence on with to act, and propose targets and networks for investigations.
The J-CAT will cover all relevant areas such as malware coding, testing, distribution, botnets, crime-as-a-service, online fraud, intrusion and similar top-end crimes.
The taskforce will also organise dedicated consultation meetings with key actors in the private sector and the Computer Emergency Response Teams for the EU institutions, bodies and agencies to obtain their input on cyber crime threats that affect them and society in general.