Just over a year ago, on 11 January 2013, the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol opened its doors for business. Created to strengthen the European Union’s law enforcement community response to cybercrime, EC3's brief was to help protect European citizens and businesses against existing and future cyber threats.
The creation of a European Cybercrime Centre was a priority in the EU Security Strategy and strongly backed by European ministers. The decision to establish EC3 within Europol has meant that existing expertise has been reallocated and significantly expanded, and new functions created to focus on the specific tasks given to EC3.
EC3’s specialised Focal Points (FPs) assist EU Member States in tackling specific forms of cyber criminality: FP Cyborg focuses on cybercrime that affects critical infrastructure and information systems in the European Union (EU); FP Twins specialises in combating cybercrime which causes serious harm to the victim – such as online child sexual exploitation; and FP Terminal’s area of speciality is in issues connected to online fraud.
In the first year since its inception, EC3 has been called upon to support many large-scale cross-border cybercrime investigations, demonstrating the clear benefit for law enforcement authorities joining forces internationally to tackle this rapidly evolving area of criminality. Investigations that, without EC3 might predominantly have stayed at a domestic level with limited cooperation and impact, have been made truly international by bringing the expertise, technical facilities, intelligence and partners together. More information about the law enforcement operations that EC3 has supported can be found in the European Cybercrime Centre’s First Year Report.
In addition to working with law enforcement cybercrime teams and relevant EU bodies, relationships forged with key partners such as computer emergency response teams (CERTs), Internet and financial services companies, the anti-malware industry, software manufacturers and academia, have ensured that the effect of law enforcement operations - and the impact on cybercrime - is being leveraged to a maximum, despite the current limited resources available. A strong Programme Board, involving key actors in the areas of cybercrime and cyber security, provides strategic guidance and ensures alignment of EC3’s activities with other partner organisations. As such, a broad, holistic approach is taken with partners like ENISA, Eurojust, CEPOL, CERT-EU and Interpol.
As well as its crucial operational support, EC3 has delivered important products and services to EU law enforcement authorities in the past year, such as training and capacity building, strategic analysis and digital forensic support.
For the future, the European Cybercrime Centre’s focus will rest on a number of areas to address issues such as criminal cooperation in the digital underground economy and the challenges brought about by cybercrime’s borderless and anonymous nature.
Having led the European Cybercrime Centre for the last 12 months, Troels Oerting, Head of EC3, said: “Today we mark the 1st anniversary of the establishment of EC3. Since its opening we have been extremely busy in assisting EU Member States to prevent and combat cybercrime in many areas. The threat to a safe, secure and free Internet will increase as the Internet - and the Internet of Things - develops, and more of the global population comes online.”
“I am both proud and satisfied with our results so far, and grateful for the support we have received from the European Commission and our 28 Member States. But we can in no way rest on our laurels. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg and we are facing huge challenges in the future when this type of crime will impact us from all parts of the world, through advanced tools and the criminals’ ability to hide. This task requires 'heavy lifting' from all stakeholders, and not just law enforcement. EC3 is ready to do its share of the work and is dedicated to continuing our facilitation role in Member States’ frontline operations.”
For more information please visit the Press release - IP/14/129 page of the European Commission.