Europe to assemble crack cyber-intelligence nerve centre

... as MEPs propose fresh hacking laws


Brussels hopes to establish a European Cybercrime Centre within the continent's police agency Europol by the start of January.

The centre proposed by the European Commission will focus on thwarting online banking fraud, attacks against smartphones, and large-scale coordinated assaults on public services and infrastructure. Other priorities will include protecting social network profiles, halting ID theft and combating the sexual exploitation of children online.

National police agencies, government-run organisations and private sector technology firms across many countries are already grappling with these problems, of course. Eurocrats want the proposed anticrime squad to act as an intelligence and co-ordination hub, as explained in this statement issued on Wednesday:

The centre would pool European cybercrime expertise and training efforts. It would warn EU countries of major cybercrime threats, of new ways to commit online crimes and identify organised cybercrime networks and prominent offenders in cyberspace.

The centre would also be able to respond to queries from cybercrime investigators, prosecutors and judges as well as the private sector on specific technical and forensic issues. It would provide operational support in concrete investigations and help set up cybercrime joint investigation teams.

In related news, a European parliamentary committee put forward a draft directive on Tuesday calling for criminal laws against computer hacking to be enacted across all EU countries, with the maximum penalty set at two years or more, or at least five years if there are aggravating factors - such as financial motivation or attacks that cause widespread disruption.

The proposal also calls for measures to make companies liable for attacks carried out for their benefit and the outlawing of hacking tools.

One man's hacking tool is another man's penetration testing utility, of course. Fortunately the fine print of the proposals recognises this distinction, as explained in a blog post by Rik Ferguson of Trend Micro here. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • LGBTQ+ folks warned of dating app extortion scams
    Uncle Sam tells of crooks exploiting Pride Month

    The FTC is warning members of the LGBTQ+ community about online extortion via dating apps such as Grindr and Feeld.

    According to the American watchdog, a common scam involves a fraudster posing as a potential romantic partner on one of the apps. The cybercriminal sends explicit of a stranger photos while posing as them, and asks for similar ones in return from the mark. If the victim sends photos, the extortionist demands a payment – usually in the form of gift cards – or threatens to share the photos on the chat to the victim's family members, friends, or employer.

    Such sextortion scams have been going on for years in one form or another, even attempting to hit Reg hacks, and has led to suicides.

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • NSO claims 'more than 5' EU states use Pegasus spyware
    And it's like, what ... 12, 13,000 total targets a year max, exec says

    NSO Group told European lawmakers this week that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware, though these customers include "more than five" European Union member states.

    The surveillance-ware maker's General Counsel Chaim Gelfand refused to answer specific questions about the company's customers during a European Parliament committee meeting on Thursday. 

    Instead, he frequently repeated the company line that NSO exclusively sells its spyware to government agencies — not private companies or individuals — and only "for the purpose of preventing and investigating terrorism and other serious crimes."

    Continue reading
  • Interpol anti-fraud operation busts call centers behind business email scams
    1,770 premises raided, 2,000 arrested, $50m seized

    Law enforcement agencies around the world have arrested about 2,000 people and seized $50 million in a sweeping operation crackdown of social engineering and other scam operations around the globe.

    In the latest action in the ongoing "First Light", an operation Interpol has coordinated annually since 2014, law enforcement officials from 76 countries raided 1,770 call centers suspected of running fraudulent operations such as telephone and romance scams, email deception scams, and financial crimes.

    Among the 2,000 people arrested in Operation First Light 2022 were call center operators and fraudsters, and money launderers. Interpol stated that the operation also saw 4,000 bank accounts frozen and 3,000 suspects identified.

    Continue reading
  • World Economic Forum wants a global map of online crime
    Will cyber crimes shrug off Atlas Initiative? Objectively, yes

    RSA Conference An ambitious project spearheaded by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is working to develop a map of the cybercrime ecosystem using open source information.

    The Atlas initiative, whose contributors include Fortinet and Microsoft and other private-sector firms, involves mapping the relationships between criminal groups and their infrastructure with the end goal of helping both industry and the public sector — law enforcement and government agencies — disrupt these nefarious ecosystems.  

    This kind of visibility into the connections between the gang members can help security researchers identify vulnerabilities in the criminals' supply chain to develop better mitigation strategies and security controls for their customers. 

    Continue reading
  • Cloud services proving handy for cybercriminals, SANS Institute warns
    Flying horses, gonna pwn me away...

    RSA Conference Living off the land is so 2021. These days, cybercriminals are living off the cloud, according to Katie Nickels, director of intelligence for Red Canary and a SANS Certified Instructor.

    "It's not enough to pay attention to the operating systems, the endpoints, said Nickels, speaking on a SANS Institute panel about the most dangerous new attack techniques at RSA Conference. "Adversaries, a lot of their intrusions, are using cloud services of different types."  

    And yes, living off the land (or the cloud), in which intruders use legitimate software and cloud services to deploy malware or spy on corporations and other nefarious activities, isn't a new type of attack, Nickels admitted. "But what's new here is the levels to which using cloud services [for cyberattacks] has risen." 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft seizes 41 domains tied to 'Iranian phishing ring'
    Windows giant gets court order to take over dot-coms and more

    Microsoft has obtained a court order to seize 41 domains used by what the Windows giant said was an Iranian cybercrime group that ran a spear-phishing operation targeting organizations in the US, Middle East, and India. 

    The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit said the gang, dubbed Bohrium, took a particular interest in those working in technology, transportation, government, and education sectors: its members would pretend to be job recruiters to lure marks into running malware on their PCs.

    "Bohrium actors create fake social media profiles, often posing as recruiters," said Amy Hogan-Burney, GM of Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "Once personal information was obtained from the victims, Bohrium sent malicious emails with links that ultimately infected their target's computers with malware."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022