Cyber-OC – Scope and manifestations in selected EU member states

The threats arising from different types of cybercrime are real and constantly evolving, as the internet with its anonymity and borderless reach provides new opportunities for physical and virtual criminal activities. We can see complex cybercriminal networks connecting subgroups and also single individuals that are active on, through and against the internet. At the same time there are also ‘offline’ criminal organisations using the internet to facilitate their activities and to increase their profit. Even so-called ‘traditional’ organised crime groups are widening their criminal portfolios by committing cybercrime. By constantly evolving online opportunities, their acts of ‘traditional crimes’ become even more far-reaching and damaging, thus benefiting the criminal organisation.

It is not only the involvement of organised crime in cybercrime that is dangerous, but also cybercrime committed in an organised manner. Cyber-OC represents the convergence of these two phenomena. Despite the huge threat arising from its cumulative character, Cyber-OC is frequently underestimated and differently defined even by law enforcement authorities.

 

Final remark

All in all,technological developments will further expand the possibilities tointeract anonymously. Cybercriminals, evidence, profits and victims will be-come even more elusive than they already are. When different steps of an of-fence are committed by different people, as is the case in chain-like struc-tures, it becomes difficult to understand the nature of a crime, to see howcrime develops, to identify those responsible for it, and to prevent, investigateand prosecute these crimes by traditional means.

Since the internet is a virtual place without time, space, boundaries and juris-diction, it requires creativity to apply existing investigative tools that are de-veloped in an offline world to investigate severe forms of Cyber-OC. For the prevention and repression of Cyber-OC specific tools and new laws seem tobe necessary.In the Netherlands, the Minister of Security and Justice recently made a pro-posal to give Dutch law enforcement the authority to hack devices of crim-inals in the hope of getting hold of information that would otherwise be outof reach for the police. In Germany, the Minister of Justice of the State of Hesse suggested the introduction of a law that penalises the infection of com-puters with malware that makes the affected computers part of a botnet.

New local and international laws are necessary to open up the internet to lawenforcement. This will be a challenge, because with new laws new privacyissues also arise that need to be considered. Governments will have to thinkcreatively and collaboratively about new ways to combat these new forms ofcrime. Understanding how Cyber-OC develops is a necessary first step. Wehope this joint report, written by researchers of three European countries, hascontributed to this goal