Troels Oerting calls for greater international co-operation to help the fight against cybercriminals
The head of Europol’s Cybercrime Centre has said he believes that only around 100 people are behind most of the world’s cybercrime.
Speaking to the BBC, Troels Oerting said that “a rather limited group of good programmers” were responsible for major activities such as the Heartbleed virus and Home Depot credit card hacking schemes.
“We roughly know who they are. If we can take them out of the equation then the rest will fall down,” Oerting said.
“We can still cope but the criminals have more resources and they do not have obstacles. They are driven by greed and profit and they produce malware at a speed that we have difficulties catching up with.”
Oerting (pictured left) admitted that there was still a long way to go in fighting cybercrime across Europe, not least in improving relationships between different nations to allow co-operation in catching criminals.
“I have to work with countries I am not used to working with and that scares me a bit,” he said, noting that the majority of the cybercrime “kingpins” were located in the Russian-speaking world.
“Criminals no longer come to our countries, they commit their crimes from a distance and because of this I cannot use the normal tools to catch them,” he added, revealing that he had recently been on a trip to Moscow to discuss four big cybercrime cases and was hopeful that arrests and jail sentences would follow.
When asked about what data people should be looking to protect, Oerting highlighted the need to safeguard personal information as a key priority.
“What I think you should be afraid of is the stealing of your private, sensitive information – your inbox credentials, your Facebook account,” he said.
“If they know a bit about you they can reset your Google accounts, your Apple accounts. Then they simply take over your life,” he said.
Oerting also noted that the rise of the “Internet of Things” was widening the scope for potential attacks, as the Internet gains more users and connected devices.
This mirrors the findings of a KPMG survey last week which found that British consumers are increasingly concerned about the growing effect of the Internet of Things, with security being a major issue.
The Europol Cybercrime Centre opened in January 2013, looking to focus on protecting businesses and individuals from cyber attacks by bringing together expertise and pooling data resources from across Europe to support local criminal investigations. It also runs training and R&D, producing threat assessments for nation states to take advantage of, whilst working closely with the private sector.
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