Europol launches European Cybercrime Centre

The new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) based at Europol headquarters in The Hague will be officially launched on Friday, January 11, and will be the focal point in the EU’s fight against cybercrime, protecting citizens and businesses against cybercrime threats.

According to a recent Eurobarometer study, Internet users remain concerned about cyber security. 89% of them avoid disclosing personal information online and 74% agree that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime has increased in the past year. In fact, about one million people worldwide fall victim to some form of cybercrime every day. Some estimate that victims lose around €290 billion each year worldwide as a result of cybercriminal activities.

“EU citizens and businesses require an open, free and transparent cyberspace so we need to protect the online world just as we do the off-line world. EC3 will be a valuable tool for the EU and its Member States to help coordinate and support efforts that keep the Net safe from criminals”, says Troels Oerting, Head of EC3.

Investigations into online fraud, online child abuse and other cybercrimes regularly involve hundreds of victims at a time, and suspects in many different parts of the world. Operations of this magnitude cannot be successfully concluded by national police forces alone.

The opening of the European Cybercrime Centre marks a significant shift from how the EU has been addressing cybercrime so far. Above all, the approach of EC3 will be more forward-thinking and inclusive. It will pool expertise and information, support criminal investigations and promote EU-wide solutions, while raising awareness of cybercrime issues and building operational and analytical capacity across the Union.

Law enforcement methods for addressing cybercrime need to be as sophisticated, if not more, than those employed by cybercriminals. EC3 will focus on illegal online activities carried out by organized crime groups, especially attacks targeting e-banking and other online financial activities, online child sexual exploitation and those crimes that affect the critical infrastructure and information systems in the EU.

To achieve its tasks and better support cybercrime investigators, prosecutors and judges in the Member States, EC3 will fuse information from open sources, private industry, police and academia. The new Centre will also serve as a knowledge base for national police in EU Member States pooling European cybercrime expertise and training efforts, and responding to queries from partners on specific technical and forensic issues.

It will also reach out to industry and other important non-law enforcement players to put in practice public-private partnerships and develop general and more specialized threat assessments on the nature of cybercrime. Outreach ensures that EC3 communicates with its partners with one voice by providing a framework for engagement.

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