Britain will lead a new cybercrime task-force that brings together the UK’s National Crime Agency, the FBI, Interpol, and Germany’s Federal Police to combat serious organised online crime, following the precedent set by previous successful cooperation in taking down the Shylock Trojan in July.
The new Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) will work out of the headquarters of INTERPOL in the Hague, and will bring together Australia, Austria, Canada, Colombia, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The nations involved will pool national intelligence and capabilities to disrupt cybercriminal networks to ensure “an open, transparent, free but also safe Internet”.
According to the press release that accompanied the commencement of operations at J-CAT, the group “will cover all relevant areas like malware coding, testing, distribution, Botnets, Crime-as-a-Service, online fraud, intrusion and similar top-end crimes”.
The task-force is starting life on a six month trial period, after which the contributing bodies can evaluate its successes and failures. Speaking to SC Magazine the head of operations at the European Cyber Crime Centre said “We’re really testing this out as a learning exercise… The more you practise at doing something the better – and luckier – you get at doing it… We’re pushing an open door, the cyber-crime investigation community agree that this is the only way they can work”.
Many of the same bodies that are coming together to form J-CAT have previous form, having already worked to disable the infrastructure behind the Shylock Trojan earlier this year. The piece of Malware, described as ‘one of the worlds most dangerous financial trojans’ intercepted the bank details of Windows computer users for the benefit of its creators.
Reaching a peak of infections at the end of 2013, it resisted attempts to block it through antivirus software and stole “several million dollars” over the past few years. Unable to prevent it attacking clients, the NCA, GCHQ, the FBI, Interpol and others coordinated efforts to successfully bring down its controlling servers in June.
This crime-fighting alliance may be another step in bringing the notoriously lawless internet to heel by the largely culturally European nations involved, but it still lacks some of the key players in global cybersecurity.
China and Russia are widely recognised to be the two global hotspots of cybercrime, and have both been targeted by cyber criminals themselves but have been largely reticent to join with Western nations in combating the threat to global security.