The European Cybecrime Centre (EC3) was created at the initiative of the European Commmission and following approval from the Council of the EU, with the mandate to serve as the European information hub on cybercrime. It was established as part of the Europol structure, in order to facilitate cross working with other crime areas.
EC3's work focuses on the following areas:
- Cybercrimes committed by organised groups, particularly those generating large criminal profits, such as online fraud;
- Cybercrimes which cause serious harm to the victim, such as online child sexual exploitation;
- Cybercrimes (including cyber-attacks) affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in the European Union.
One of the functions carried by the Centre is to report on pertinent cybercrime, online child sexual exploitation, payment fraud and related online threats, and to provide specialised thematic, strategic assessments on emerging trends, criminal methods, and crime facilitators. In this regard, the annual Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment is the EC3's flagship strategic product. EC3 is also involved in training and capacity building activities; these are mainly addressed to EU member states law enforcement authorities and cover areas such as: payment card fraud, combating sexual exploitation of children on the Internet, and open source IT forensics.
One of EC3’s main goals is to increase its preventive capabilities in the fight against cybercrime, while, at the same time, helping the law enforcement agencies in being one step ahead of the cybercriminals. An important part of this effort is specialising in early warnings, cybercrime threat assessments, and awareness-raising methods.
The Centre cooperates with law enforcement agencies, EU institutions, international organisations, private industry, the public sector, and academia, thus developing and maintaining partnerships that can contribute to strengthening the EU capabilities to respond to cybercrime.
EC3 has a dedicated thematic project aimed at researching the governance arrangements and architecture of the internet. The project identifies significant vulnerabilities exploited by Organised Crime Groups and identifies opportunities to affect and influence current and future developments of the Internet.
EC3 contributes to aligning law enforcement engagement within the EU member states, working on a collective overview which will be important to affect policies, in particular regarding IP address resolution, domain name system criminal abuse, proxy privacy accreditation issues, registration of accurate data, and a strong compliance mechanism for accredited domain names registrars and registries. By researching and improving law enforcement knowledge of the architecture and governance structure of the Internet, the EC3 can gain a better understanding of the Internet governance landscape, which will be of benefit to all member states’ and third parties’ investigations.