Wednesday 15 April 2015

Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore: New centre targets cybercrime worldwide

Dedicated office in Singapore will help Interpol form partnerships in Asia
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 14 Apr 2015

THE International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) now has a dedicated office to lead its fight against cybercrime worldwide.

The Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), which houses a Digital Crime Centre, was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

Singapore was chosen to host the IGCI after a vote by member countries at Interpol's annual general assembly in 2010. The complex is located on the former site of the Tanglin Police Division headquarters in Napier Road.

Speaking at the IGCI inauguration ceremony yesterday, Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, pointed to the growing complexity of safety and security threats worldwide, citing the recent attacks at a Kenyan university and Istanbul's police headquarters.

He said there is "a stronger nexus between organised crime and terrorism as criminal networks exploit connectivity and technology to globalise their operations". Cybercrime costs the global economy an estimated $400 billion a year.

With a greater need for international law enforcement cooperation to tackle complex, transnational and fast-evolving threats, Mr Teo said the IGCI will contribute to international policing in three ways. First, it will strengthen Interpol's global presence by complementing its headquarters in Lyon, France, and its command and coordination centres in Latin America and Europe.

Having a significant presence in Asia allows for the dissemination of real-time alerts and coordination of operational responses round the clock, worldwide.

Second, the IGCI will collaborate with research laboratories, academics, and private- and public-sector players to develop "innovative and practical policing solutions against cybercrime" which can be tapped by member countries.

Third, Mr Teo said, the IGCI can use Singapore's location to reach out to the region and beyond. It will help Interpol to form partnerships in Asia, and to "gain a better understanding of Asian perspectives and expertise" to shape its research, development and operational responses.

IGCI executive director Noboru Nakatani said that member countries will be able to "learn from international best practices how to tackle online criminal infrastructure like botnets, just like tackling black markets in the physical space".

Besides the Digital Crime Centre, the complex also houses a forensics lab to support digital crime investigations. The Interpol complex has over 110 officers from 50 countries. It will house some 180 officers by next year. The six-storey building can accommodate over 300 employees.

Centre's role in global operation
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 14 Apr 2015

THE new Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) coordinated a global operation last Thursday on a computer network that allowed cyber criminals to remotely access computers and steal personal details such as banking passwords.

A total of 10 command and control servers of the Simda botnet were seized in the Netherlands, with additional servers simultaneously removed in the United States, Russia, Luxembourg and Poland.

The botnet - a collection of infected computers which take orders from central servers - is believed to have been active for several years, infecting over 770,000 computers.

Simda would also install and spread other malicious software on victims' computers, charging victims per successful malware installation.

Interpol's Digital Crime Centre at the IGCI worked with Microsoft, Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro and Japan's Cyber Defence Institute to locate the botnet's command and control servers.

As #Singapore celebrates its 50 years of independence, the city today hosted the inaugural #INTERPOL World forum. This...
Posted by INTERPOL HQ on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Singapore '7th highest in Asia-Pac' for social media scams
By Hoe Pei Shan And Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 15 Apr 2015

CYBERCRIME is leap-frogging traditional crime and constantly taking on new forms, say analysts.

Digital extortion grew globally in the last year and is shifting from e-mail to social media scams, with Singapore ranked the seventh highest in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of volume of such cases, according to the latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report.

Released yesterday on the opening day of biennial security trade event Interpol World, the annual report culled information from more than 57.6 million attack sensors monitoring threat activity in some 160 countries and territories.

Singapore came in 33rd globally and seventh regionally in social media scams.

"Instead of doing the dirty work themselves, cyber criminals are taking advantage of unwitting users to proliferate their scams," said Symantec's senior director of cyber security services (Asia Pacific and Japan), Mr Peter Sparkes.

"Interestingly, the majority of such scams, up to 87 per cent, were shared manually as attackers took advantage of the trust that people have in content shared by their friends."

Another common type of cyber attack in Singapore is known as ransomware - malware which restricts access to the infected computer system, then demands a ransom be paid to the malware's creators before access can be regained.

Some 24,000 ransomware attacks were recorded daily around the world last year, a 113 per cent jump from the 11,000 in 2013, the report said.

The United States retained its top spot as the country with the largest source of cyberthreats, but Asian countries are slowly creeping up the rankings, Mr Sparkes noted.

While the energy sector has traditionally been the biggest target of cyber criminals out to cripple critical infrastructure and steal valuable forecasting data, information in healthcare is progressively being sought after, he added.

Combating cybercrime has to be a joint effort between the public and private sectors, said Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran yesterday at the opening of the event.

"Criminals and law enforcement agencies are locked in a competitive cycle of co-evolvement, where we fight for technological competitive advantage," he said.

"There is thus an urgent need for law enforcement agencies to leverage latest technologies and adopt innovation as a key enabler of policing work."

Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, added that it is crucial for stakeholders to collaborate, tap on each other's resources and develop deep expertise.

Interpol president Mireille Ballestrazzi and secretary-general Jurgen Stock also spoke on the need for government and businesses to collaborate.

The three-day Interpol World, held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, ends tomorrow. The event drew some 8,000 participants and more than 200 companies from 30 countries.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Mr Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive and chairman of cyber security company Kaspersky Lab, said the company will be moving its Asia-Pacific headquarters from Hong Kong to Singapore.

The firm has a security researcher helping the global police with cyber investigations at its Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Napier Road.

Extremist websites cited as threats by Masagos
By Amir Hussain, The Straits Times, 16 Apr 2015

EVEN as terrorism remains a pressing challenge for countries in the region, the online presence of an estimated 6,000 extremist websites makes the threat of self-radicalisation and "lone-wolf" attacks "a newer significant concern", said Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli.

Speaking at the biennial Interpol Asian Regional Conference yesterday, Mr Masagos cited terrorist incidents in Sydney last December, in Paris in January, and in Copenhagen in February, as "stark examples of recent terrorist attacks and atrocities".

Tackling terrorism requires "collective inter-agency and international efforts", said Mr Masagos, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

"Forging strong partnerships is essential to enable the flow of information and intelligence to facilitate collaboration across countries," he said.

In his address to over 160 representatives of law enforcement agencies from 31 Interpol countries, Mr Masagos also spoke on other key security threats in the region, including drug production and trafficking, counterfeiting and human trafficking.

With advances in technology, the reach of criminals has "expanded tremendously", he added.

Said Mr Masagos: "The sale of counterfeit medicine, for example, can now be easily pushed using the Internet and convenient courier services."

Criminals have also been going online to facilitate trafficking for sexual exploitation. The estimated annual earnings of transnational organised crime groups in the Asia-Pacific is US$360 billion (S$490 billion). The digital space is also increasingly becoming the preferred mode of crime, he said.

And with critical infrastructure such as power plants highly reliant on computers, he said the cyber attack last week on French television network TV5Monde by hackers claiming to support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria "is a stern reminder of our public platforms' vulnerabilities".

Mr Masagos said the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Napier Road would strengthen the global network of cybercrime investigators by setting global standards and protocols in cybercrime investigations and forensics. The closed-door Interpol event was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

Singapore-based Interpol centre creates virtual currency to fight crime
By Hoe Pei Shan, The Straits Times, 18 Apr 2015

THE new Singapore-based Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) has created its own cryptocurrency in a bid to better combat crimes involving virtual currencies such as the bitcoin.

The complex, which became fully operational earlier this week, houses the international police's first digital crime centre and cybercrime research and development capabilities.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the biennial security trade event Interpol World, held this week at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, IGCI director of cyber innovation and outreach Madan Mohan Oberoi said his team has already made progress in several projects.

The 30 or so personnel, including officers from the Singapore Police Force, have been working to develop in-house forensic tools within the IGCI.

One of these is the agency's own virtual currency, which can be used in a specially designed simulation-based training game to create scenarios of cryptocurrency use and misuse.

"It's a virtual world that we have created, and personnel can come and operate these things and learn by operating them," said Dr Oberoi, a former inspector-general of police with India's Central Bureau of Investigation, where he headed the cybercrime cell, technical and forensic zone and international police cooperation unit.

"We felt that these things, if you try to teach people from a policing background through PowerPoint presentations, it doesn't make too much sense. Let them play around and learn more," added Dr Oberoi, the Hubert Humphrey Fellow in 2010-2011 under the international Fulbright Scholarship Programme, whose doctorate is in cybercrime.

His team also identified vulnerabilities in virtual currencies that can be used for posting malware, and he oversaw the development of a tracer that could help law enforcement officers track down those behind such acts.

Cryptocurrencies are presenting emerging challenges as they become more widely used, and Interpol is also looking at the policy and law enforcement implications of these virtual currencies.

Seizing virtual currencies, preserving them and presenting them to court are some of the issues that Dr Oberoi's team is exploring.

Next week, Interpol will issue a document that will function as a road map to define its future activities in cybercrime research.

The document is the product of a workshop held here earlier this year with various law enforcement agencies, members of academia and banking and security experts from private sectors around the world.

"The idea was to identify what should be the direction of research in the cyberworld for the law enforcement industry," said Dr Oberoi.

Digital forensics and the ability to measure and forecast cybercrime top the list of priorities set out in this Interpol Cyber Research Agenda.

Dr Oberoi's team is also exploring project ideas with various institutions here, such as the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Said Dr Oberoi: "Cybercrime is a domain where information and expertise lie outside the domain of law enforcement agencies, so we have to reach out to other stakeholders... consult each other and work closely together."

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