Interpol’s Asian base in the battle against cybercrime
It is estimated that cybercrime costs the global economy about $445 billion a year, damaging international trade, economic growth and the pace of innovation. Exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet, criminals are able to commit a diverse range of crimes that are presenting new challenges for police forces worldwide. It is therefore essential for police forces to adapt their responses to effectively confront new and evolving threats in cyberspace.
At Emtech Asia 2016, a dialogue session was held with Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), on Interpol’s efforts in combating cybercrime in the digital age.
The Interpol Global Complex for Innovation
Launched in Singapore in 2015, the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) is a research and development facility set up to counter global cybercrime. The centre supports digital crime investigations, provides research into emerging cybercrime threats, and aims to equip police around the world with the tools and capabilities to confront the increasingly sophisticated challenges posed by cybercriminals.
“The IGCI was created in Singapore to address unprecedented challenges that law enforcement is facing in the digital age. The criminal use of the Internet has fundamentally challenged traditional law enforcement methodologies of criminal investigation. That is why Interpol decided to create this new complex in Singapore, for innovation in policing in the context of international police cooperation,” said Nakatani.
The complex also features a Cyberfusion Centre which provides a single point of entry for global cyber-related information and intelligence. Collaborating with research laboratories, academics, governments and the private sector, the centre acts as a gateway to receive and analyse all cyber-related intelligence and develop innovative policing solutions against cybercrime.
“On that front, we are collecting and aggregating information coming from different sources. We have the Cyberfusion Centre, a collaborative space where law enforcement staff, academia and the private sector work together to share information, analyse data and produce reports. We have 12 experts from private companies and 3 academics, and what we are doing is the aggregation of different sources of data and putting them into real world actionable intelligence,” said Nakatani.
Fostering International Police Cooperation
As the scale of cybercrime often extends beyond the borders of individual nation states, policing cybercrime is a global operation, and Nakatani discussed Interpol’s role in fostering international collaborations between law enforcement agencies across the world.
“Cybercrime is a game changer for law enforcement. The challenge that we have now is that law enforcement is currently based on the nation states, while what we are facing is global. Policing is not inherently scaled nationally across borders, and it surely doesn’t scale in cyberspace either,” said Nakatami.
For example, the Simda Botnet is a collection of central servers which infected over 770,000 computers across the world, allowing criminals to remotely access computers and steal personal details such as banking passwords. To take down Simda Botnet, Interpol coordinated a joint international operation that involved police forces from the Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg, USA and Russia.
“Due to bilateral relations between Russia and USA, a joint task force is not feasible, but through Interpol, it happened. Under the umbrella of Interpol, people are motivated to work together to combat cybercrime. Combating cybercrime is not about competition, its about cooperation and collaboration,” said Nakatani.
Interpol also provides training for police forces of member states, equipping them with the expertise needed to combat cybercrime. With Darknets emerging as trading venues for criminal networks, a five day course was designed to help police officers investigate and take down online black markets. As part of the training, Interpol’s research lab created its own private Darknet network, private cryptocurrency and simulated marketplace, recreating the virtual underground environment used by criminals to avoid detection.
The Internet of Threats
With billions of connected devices in future, Nakatani believes that the Internet of Things will present the biggest cybersecurity threat, and highlighted a quote from Eugene Kaspersky, who said that the Internet of Things can be easily turned into “the Internet of Threats”.
“More and more devices are connected to the Internet - the water industry, the energy industry, pacemakers, cars, everything we can imagine is connected, and the Internet is actually quite vulnerable. The Internet was not created to prevent manipulation by criminals, so it is easy to attack and difficult to secure, making cyber security one of the top issues in the world today. We need to understand how vulnerable the Internet is, and that there is a fundamental risk,” emphasized Nakatani.
Nakatani also explained that with the rise of connected smart city platforms and infrastructure, a large amount of valuable data is being generated, and this has become a target for cybercriminals. “That data is available for the private industry to analyse to provide better service to customers, but at the same time, it is there for criminals, so mobility of data carries a risk. Today, information and data has become a good source of funding for criminals.”