INTERPOL takes on cyber-crime

According to a story on the Washington Post web site, INTERPOL is setting up a facility in Singapore, the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation, and a big part of the mission of this new facility is to help fight cyber-crime. I'm not quite sure what to think about this. Lots of government officials are making statements about what an important step this is, but that may or may not actually be the case. I seem to recall INTERPOL being mentioned in The Saint, the '60s TV show that starred Roger Moore as the notorious Simon Templar. It might have been mentioned in one of more James Bond movies, and I seem to recall seeing warnings at the beginning of movies on DVD that tell you that they've expressed concern about copyright infringement. 

But it's not clear to me exactly what INTERPOL does and how their new Global Facility will actually help fight cyber-crime. Interpol's job, after all, is fairly vague: to help coordinate the actions of the world's police forces. And that may not be very useful in the case of cyber-crime because the cyber criminals are fairly clever. 

I've heard stories, for example, of how Russian hackers are very careful to not hack the credit card numbers of other Russians and to not target businesses in Russia. This makes going after them a very low priority for Russian law enforcement agencies who almost always have more pressing issues competing for their attention. And this doesn't seem like the sort of thing that an INTERPOL cyber-crime division would really have much of an effect on.

But here's what INTERPOL wants from their new facility:

The four main components of the Global Complex are as follows:

Innovation, research and digital security

  • Boosting cybersecurity and countering  cybercrime;
  • A forensic laboratory to support digital crime investigations;
  • Research to test protocols, tools and services and to analyse trends of cyber-attacks;
  • Development of practical solutions in collaboration with police, research laboratories, academia and the public and private sectors;
  • Addressing issues such as Internet security governance.

Capacity building and training

  • Research into training and methodology and the transfer of this research into police activities on the ground;
  • Classroom, field and online training programmes for  National Central Bureaus; 
  • Anti-corruption training, particularly in sport;
  • Quality standards and accreditation.

Operational and investigative support

  • Identifying and addressing emerging crime threats, for example,  intellectual property crime, environmental crime and  Asian Organized crime;
  • A platform for  disaster victim identification;
  • A  Command and Coordination Centre operations room; 
  • Incident response and major events support.

International partnerships and development 

  • Global partnerships with international organizations, governments, public and private sectors;
  • Generation of revenue, donations and fundraising.

And although it's probably a good thing that there's an international effort supporting the law enforcement agencies targeting cyber-criminals, I really don't expect this particular organization to actually have much of an effect. That seems to be the nature of most government organizations. But in this case I'd love for the people at INTERPOL to prove me wrong. 

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