The European Cybercrime Center EC³09 January 2013
by eub2 -- last modified 09 January 2013
The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) is up and running from 11 January 2013 to help protect European citizens and businesses from cyber-crime. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström takes part in the official opening of the Centre established at the European Police Office, Europol in the Hague (the Netherlands).
What are the objectives?
The main task of the European Cybercrime Centre is to disrupt the operations of organised crime networks that commit a large share of the serious and organised cybercrimes. Offences include those generating large criminal profits, those causing serious harm to their victims or those affecting our vital infrastructure and IT systems.
The Centre will gather information from a variety of sources – not only law enforcement authorities – to support investigations conducted by Member States' authorities. This will allow the Centre to identify the most dangerous, pressing cybercrime threats and single out key cybercrime networks in the EU. The Centre will also provide an early warning system for national law enforcement on new vulnerabilities criminals have started to exploit or on how to handle new, technically challenging cases.
The Centre will further develop a common standard for cybercrime reporting so that serious cybercrime can be reported to national law enforcement authorities in a uniform way. Information from a citizen in one Member State reporting a compromise of his bank account could easily be linked to other citizens reporting similar incidents affecting the same bank in their respective countries. In such cases, the Centre will be able to immediately alert all other Member States' authorities.
The Centre will also respond to queries from cybercrime investigators, prosecutors and judges as well as the private sector on specific technical and forensic issues, and would bring together the various players in cybercrime training with the aim of increasing the overall offer of training possibilities and expanding such courses to the judiciary.
Finally, the Centre would assume the collective voice of European cybercrime investigators, providing a platform to develop common positions of Union law enforcement authorities on key issues, for example on Internet governance structures or in building trusted networks with the private sector and non-governmental organisations, and providing the natural interface for international initiatives to curb cybercrime, such as Interpol's work in this domain.
How will it work?
Equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a strong team of highly-qualified and specialised personnel offering a wide spectrum of services - from helping Member States analyse complex digital forensic evidence to forecasting trends and scenarios, the European Cybercrime Centre will become the focal point in the fight against cybercrime in the Union.
Overview of the Centre's functions - infographic
How is the EC³ staffed and funded?
Since the EC³ will be launched within Europol its budget will form part of the general Europol budget (which amounted to around €84 million in 2012). Around 7 million euros will be available for the EC³ operational activities within the Europol 2013 budget.
As for the staff, 30 full time positions are already operating within the EC³ and in the course of 2013 Europol will make additional redistributions of tasks, so as to free around 10 additional posts, bringing the total EC³ staff to around 40 people.
As for subsequent years, additional reinforcements will be necessary to meet the increased workload of the Centre. The Commission is at work to find ways to increase Europol's budget accordingly with the Agency's expanding mandate in the field of cybercrime.
What is the extent of the cybercrime problem?
According to a recent study (1), Internet users remain very concerned about cyber security. As many as 89% of them avoid disclosing personal information online and 74% agree that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime has increased in the past year.
In fact, about one million people worldwide fall victim to some form of cybercrime every day. Some estimate that victims lose around €290 billion2 each year worldwide as a result of cybercriminal activities.
According to a McAfee study cybercrime profits amount to 750 billion a year, with 150.000 computer viruses in circulation every day and 148.000 computers compromised daily
What type of operations will be carried out?
In the past months, Europol has also significantly increased its practical support to cybercrime investigations in Member States.
Only last year and to cite only one example, Operation Icarus, coordinated by Europol, identified 273 online child sexual abuse suspects and 113 of those suspects spread across 23 countries were arrested. This is the scale and complexity of operations the European Cybercrime Centre will focus on.
2: USD $388 billion - from Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, Symantec, 7 September 2011, accessed on 6 January 2012
Source: European Commission