An EU Cybercrime Centre to fight serious online crime
The European Commission is proposing to establish an European Cybercrime Centre to help protect citizens and businesses against mounting cyber-crime that costs the UK GBP 27 billion a year. Cyber-threats include online fraud involving credit cards and bank credentials, hacking of smartphones and large-scale coordinated attacks on public services and infrastructure. The centre will focus on illegal online activities carried out by organised crime groups.
It is estimated that, worldwide, more than one million people become victims of cybercrime every day. The global turnover of cybercrime could reach an overall total of GBP 243 billion, making it more profitable than the global trade in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined. According to government figures, in the UK the cost of cybercrime is GBP 27 billion a year with GBP 3.1 billion born by citizens, GBP 2.2 billion by the government and businesses suffering the bulk of the burden by loosing GBP 21 billion.
"Millions of Europeans use the Internet for home banking, online shopping and planning holidays, or to stay in touch with family and friends via online social networks. But as the online part of our everyday lives grows, organised crime is following suit - and these crimes affect each and every one of us," said Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs. "We can't let cybercriminals disrupt our digital lives. A European Cybercrime Centre within Europol will become a hub for cooperation in defending an internet that is free, open and safe."
The EU experts will also work on preventing cybercrimes affecting e-banking and online booking activities. Another priority will be to protect social network profiles from e-crime infiltration and to help the fight against online identity theft. It will also focus on cybercrimes which cause serious harm to their victims, such as online child sexual exploitation and cyber-attacks affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in the Union.
The European centre will warn EU Member States of major cybercrime threats and alert them of weaknesses in their online defences. It will identify organised cyber-criminal networks and prominent offenders in cyberspace. It will provide operational support in concrete investigations, be it with forensic assistance or by helping to set up cybercrime Joint Investigation Teams.
The Commission's proposal now needs to be adopted by the Europol management board and the centre is expected to start operations in January next year. It will be established within the European police agency, Europol in The Hague (The Netherlands).
Almost three quarters of European households have Internet access, about a third of the citizens in the Union use home banking. Consequently, cybercrime is on the raise and cyber-criminals have created a profitable market around their illegal activities where credit card details can be sold between organised crime groups for less then a pound (Euro 1) per card, a counterfeited physical credit card for around GBP 116 (Euro140) and bank credentials for as little as GBP 50 (Euro 60). Cybercrimes are also targeting social media: up to 600 000 Facebook accounts are blocked every day, after various types of hacking attempts and over 6.700.000 distinct bot-infected computers were detected in 2009.
The Commission announced its intention to establish a European Cybercrime Centre in the 'EU Internal Security Strategy in Action' (IP/10/1535 and MEMO/10/598), adopted on 22 November 2010. The Communication on a European Cybercrime Centre is part of a series of measures that seek to protect citizens from online crimes, complementing legislative proposals such as the Directive on attacks against information systems, the text of which is currently debated in the European Parliament (IP/10/1239 and MEMO/10/463) or the Directive on combating the sexual exploitation of children online and child pornography, adopted in 2011 (IP/10/379 and MEMO/10/107).
For more information
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs
Homepage DG Home Affairs: