INTERVIEW / The EU’s new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), to be inaugurated in The Hague today (11 January), will co-operate closely with the FBI and the US secret service in addition to other foreign agencies, its new chief told EurActiv in an interview.
Troels Ørting said that EC3 would follow Europol in co-operating with “the FBI, Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the US agencies”. Ørting is a former Danish police intelligence chief with more than 30 years’ experience in serious, organised international crime.
The EC3 will focus on illegal online activities carried out by organised crime groups, especially attacks targeting e-banking and other online financial activities, online child sexual exploitation and crimes affecting the EU's critical infrastructure.
In addition to the 27 EU member states Europol also regularly works alongside law enforcement colleagues in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Croatia and Colombia, amongst others, he said.
New centre to send ‘flying squads’ to assist
“We are building a new cyber lab and we have implemented a ‘cyber innovation room’ for supporting member states’ investigations,” Ørting told EurActiv, explaining that the opening of the EC3 marks a significant shift in the EU's response to cybercrime.
The new office will roll out a “secure outreach platform” to exchange strategic information and best practices across the EU and deploy experts with mobile offices – a kind of “flying squad” – to deliver on-the-spot assistance.
Addressing the difficulties of discovering who perpetrates cybercrime, Ørting said: “You will see espionage, preparation for cyber war and cyber attacks, terrorist activities, state-sponsored activities and hacktivism and extremism. You will see criminals – either organised in loose or more tight networks and individual criminals.”
Swarming is the new phenomenon
He said a buzzword to watch for is ‘swarming’: “A new word for sharing of a criminal modus, where lots of criminals will do the same scam for a short time.”
“We will focus on criminal groups or networks who steal your money, your information or your identity and people who engage in online abuse of children,” Ørting said.
The new EC3 chief – who has advised scriptwriters involved in Denmark’s buzzing TV crime-drama scene – acknowledged that cybercrime is extremely unpredictable.
Asked if the new centre itself was satisfactorily attack-proofed, he said it was "hopefully sufficient – but I realise that nothing is 100% secure in cyberspace and we have to be prepared for this!”
"The Cybercrime Centre will give a strong boost to the EU's capacity to fight cybercrime and defend an internet that is free, open and secure. Cybercriminals are smart and quick in using new technologies for criminal purposes; the EC3 will help us become even smarter and quicker to help prevent and fight their crimes,” said Cecilia Malmström, the Commissioner for home affairs.
Around one million people worldwide fall victim to some form of cybercrime every day. Estimates indicate that victims lose around €290 billion each year worldwide as a result of cybercriminal activities (Norton, 2011).
The Centre will also facilitate research and development and ensure capacity building among law enforcement, judges and prosecutors and will produce threat assessments, including trend analyses, forecasts and early warnings.
It will offer operational support to EU countries (e.g. against intrusion, fraud, online child sexual abuse, etc.) and deliver high-level technical, analytical and forensic expertise in EU joint investigations.
According to a recent Eurobarometer, Europeans remain very concerned about cyber security. 89% of internet users avoid disclosing personal information online, and 12% have already experienced online fraud.
11 January 2013: Official inauguration of EC3, the new European Cybercrime Centre
- European Commission: European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) facts and figure
- European Commission: Press release on cybercrime centre (28 March 2012) [FR]
- European Commission: FAQs on cybercrime centre (28 March 2012)
- Europol: Press release on Cybercrime centre (28 March 2012)
- European Commission: Proposed Directive on cyberattacks (30 Sept. 2010)
- European Parliament: Committee vote on cyberattacks directive (27 March 2012) [FR]