Illegal Cyber Activities Pose Significant Criminal Threat to Europe

As the world becomes digitized, so does the crime. The European Police Commission (Europol) in March of 2017 released its annual Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) ever. Europol is the law enforcement agency that is tasked with handling criminal intelligence and combating serious international organized crime in the European Union. SCOTA is a vital tool in Europol’s efforts to combat crime.

Comprised of more than 2,300 questionnaires regarding organized crime and investigation of more than 5,000 international groups of over 180 nationalities, the most recent SCOTA is the most comprehensive volume ever. SOCTA covers a range of criminal activities including eight priority crime threats: criminal finances, cyber crime, document fraud, drug production, migrant smuggling, online trade in illicit goods, organized property crime, and trafficking in human beings.

The Threat Presented by Cyber Crimes

SOCTA places cyber crime in the context of organized crime and serious criminal activity. Focusing on the danger presented by cyber crime and malware which steals information from a user is a priority for the European Police commission. The areas of growth that are identified by SOCTA that will require law enforcement to increase enforcement of cyber security violations include:

  • Child Sex Exploitation. An increasing number of individuals are using the internet to obtain finances through the production and distribution of child pornography. These cases frequently include the coercion and sexual extortion of children.
  • Cryptoware. As technology and hacking efforts increase, more sophisticated cryptoware is being created. The most current versions of cryptoware seeks to either prevent codes from being downloaded or makes external copies of business records. Cryptoware encrypts victims’ user generated files and denies them access unless the victim pays a fee for decryption.
  • Malware Targeting Smart Devices. This type of activity often occurs in combination with ransom demands and is expected to greatly increase. Consumers should remember to use secure passwords to guard against this type of behavior.
  • Identification Theft. In many cases, malware involves stealing a user’s data from machines that are infected by malware. Once a person’s identification is stolen, a large amount of accounts can be accessed and damage can be caused.
  • Network Attacks. Network intrusions can result in unlawful access to or disclosure of private data or intellectual property. The number of these types of attacks is expected to increase in the near future.
  • Payment Order Fraud. Criminal activity often defrauds private and public organizations in order to receive payment. These types of attacks frequently rely on the use of malware.
  • Theft of Intellectual Property. This type of crime is a serious threat to many corporations in Europe and is only expected to increase in number.
  • Risks to the Integrity of Data. There is an anticipated expansion by criminal groups of efforts to alter data, perform cyber vandalism, and various other online crimes.

Conclusion of SOCTA Report

Now that SOCTA has been compiled, the report will be used by the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) policy cycle, which was established by the EU in 2010. Based on the various concerns raised in the SCOTA report, the European Police Commission plans to increase focus on alleged cyber crimes.

If you have been accused or are subject to a criminal investigation, contact Cyber Crime defense attorney Henry Fasoldt.

Categories: Cyber Crimes