31.1.17

Europol Helps Arrest Five Members of International Cybercrime Syndicate

Five members of an international organized criminal group have been arrested, and three convicted, as a result of transnational law enforcement efforts spanning Europe and Asia. Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), assisted in the effort by providing analytical support of the seized data and equipment. The persons arrested were, according to authorities, responsible for carrying out attacks against bank ATMs, causing them to dispense all the money deposited; the total estimated loss to banks reached around three million euros. One of the arrests was made by the Romanian National Police, three by the Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau, and one by the Belarusian Central Office of the Investigative Committee.

The Cipher Take: Europol was able to assist by using its technical expertise to analyze the common operating methods of the group: first, conducting socially engineered spear-phishing attacks fitted with malware infected email attachments then pivoting into the bank’s internal networks, establishing control of ATMs, and finally wiping the traces of their activity to remain hidden. International criminal groups often recruit their talent remotely—through encrypted browsers like Tor that give access to darknet online chat forums—and commonly target individuals with multiple citizenships so that they can easily travel across borders while committing crimes throughout the globe. The international dimension of cybercrime forces national law enforcement agencies to cooperate with each other, sharing digital evidence and manpower. The more countries that sign onto the Convention on Cybercrime, known as the Budapest Convention, the more effectively and systematically national law enforcement agencies will be able to cooperate to stem what is truly an international phenomenon.

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