Cybercrime

Updates

Qrius reports that on June 5, Egypt’s parliament passed a cybercrime law that establishes regulations that will impose restrictions on social media and other online content, with implications for web censorship and freedom of expression. The law has been under discussion for some time, as authorities seek to stop 'terrorist and extremist ideologies'. According to Global Voices, the law 'gives investigative authorities the right to “order the censorship of websites” whenever a site hosts content that “poses a threat to national security or compromises national security or the national economy”.

UK’s Digital Secretary Matt Hancock has announced new plans to create regulation to ensure that ‘the UK is the safest place in the world to be online’. According to the British government, there is a lack of sufficient oversight or transparency for technology companies, resulting in inappropriate and harmful content online, ranging from cyberbullying and intimidation to online child sexual exploitation and extremist material. While working closely with industry, the government will work on a white paper, to be published later this year, which will draft legislation against digital harms. The move is part of the UK’s Internet Safety Strategy.

Mexico’s central bank confirmed that there was a cyber attack on Mexican financial institutions, in which the attackers siphoned around 300 million pesos from five institutions. According to the Governor of the Central Bank, the attackers tried to weaken the connection of financial institutions with the Interbank Electronic Payment System (Sistema de Pagos Electrónicos Interbancarios,- SPEI) issuing fraudulent transfers, which affected the accounts of the institutions themselves. SPEI itself was not affected, and neither were the end users as their transactions occur in a separate system.

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Cybercrime is crime committed via the Internet and computer systems. One category of cybercrimes are those affecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data and computer systems; they include: unauthorised access to computer systems, illegal interception of data transmissions, data interference (damaging, deletion, deterioration, alteration of suppression of data), system interference (the  hindering without right of the functioning of a computer or other device), forgery, fraud, identity theft.  

Other types of cybercrimes are content-related, and involve the production, offering, distribution, procurement and possession of online content deemed as illegal according to national laws: online child sexual abuse material, material advocating a terrorist-related act, extremist material (material encouraging hate, violence or acts of terrorism), cyber-bullying (engaging in offensive, menacing or harassing behaviour through the use of technology).

 

Cybercrime is part of a broader cybersecurity approach, and is aimed ensuring Internet safety and security.

Cybercrime: Threats and attacks

The techniques used to facilitate the types of cybercrime that affect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data and system are very diverse and more and more sophisticated. Some of the most widespread techniques include:

Malicious software: This includes viruses, spyware, and other unwanted software that is installed on computer and other devices without permission and performs unwanted tasks, often for the benefit of the attacker. These programs can damage devices, and can be used to steal personal information, monitor and control online activity, send spam and commit fraud, as well as infect other machines on the network. They also can make devices vulnerable to viruses and deliver unwanted or inappropriate online advertisements.

Viruses, trojan horses, adware, and spyware are all types of malware. A virus can replicate itself and spread to other devices, without the user being aware. Although some viruses are latent, most of them are intended to interfere with data or affect the performance of devices (reformatting the hard disk, using up computer memory, etc). A trojan horse is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. Trojans can be employed by cyber-thieves and hackers trying to gain access to users' systems. Users are typically tricked by some form of social engineering into loading and executing Trojans on their systems. Once activated, Trojans can enable cyber-criminals to spy on users, steal sensitive data, and gain backdoor access to users’ system. Adware collects marketing data and other information without the user's knowledge, or redirects search requests to certain advertising websites. Spyware monitors users, gathers information about them and transmits it to interested parties, without the use being aware. Types of information that is gathered can include: the websites visited, browser and system information, the computer IP address, as well as more sensitive information such as e-mail addresses, and passwords. Additionally, malware can cause browser hijacking, in which the user’s browser settings are modified without permission. The software may create desktop shortcuts, display advertising pop-ups, as well as replace existing home pages or search pages with other pages.

Botnets: Botnets are networks of hijacked personal computers that perform remotely commanded tasks without the knowledge of their owners. A computer is turned into a bot after being infected with specific type of malware which allows remote control. Botnets are used for a wide variety of crimes and attacks: distributing spam, extending malware infections to more computers, contributing to pay-per-click frauds, or identity theft. One of the most worrying uses of botnets is to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Researchers and cybersecurity companies have warned that botnets are becoming the biggest Internet security threat, as they are increasing the effects of viruses and other malicious programs, raise information theft, and boost denial of service attacks.  As an illustration of the dimension of this threat, the Simda botnet, taken down in April 2015, affected computers in 190 countries and involved the use of 14 command-and-control servers in five countries.

Denial of service (DoS) attacks: These attacks involve flooding a computer or website with information, preventing them to function properly. These attacks are aimed to exhaust the resources available to a network, application or service, in order to prevent users from accessing them. They are more frequently targeted as businesses, rather than individuals. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are those attacks in which multiples compromised computers attack a single target.

A DoS attack does not usually result in the theft of information or other security loss, but it can cause financial or time loss to the affected organisation or individual, because of its effects (particular network services becoming unavailable, websites ceasing operation, targeted email accounts prevented from receiving legitimate emails, etc.)

Legal frameworks

Since cybercrime transcends borders, any legal framework needs to be common among countries and this requires improved international cooperation. This international cooperation may be bilateral, regional, continental, or universal.

Most bilateral agreements on law enforcement come by way of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). This provides an effective tool for cross-border investigations and prosecution.

At regional level, various regional blocks have developed frameworks for their regions in cybercrime legislation. The Organization of American States (OAS) created a framework of guidelines to manage cybercrime as early as 1999. In 2009 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted a directive on fighting cybercrime, and in 2011 the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) presented the Cybersecurity Draft Model Bill. In June 2014, the African Union adopted the Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection.

Several international frameworks have already been created to fight cybercrime, the most prominent of which is the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime, which contains provisions on types of offenses, procedural Laws and international cooperation among countries.

Combating cybercrime

The application of technical solutions to combat cybercrime has always been the preferred option for most cybersecurity experts. However, most law enforcement personnel are not equipped with the requisite technological knowledge while most cybercriminals are experts in computer technology. Various organisations, such as the United States Department of Justice and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), have initiated capacity building programmes for developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific as well as other countries in legislative drafting and prosecution of cybercrime.

As measures to combat cybercrime continue to multiply, various organisations have established their individual structures for cybersecurity. It is not uncommon for private organisations to have their own in-house rules on the acceptable use of their networks and also to educate their clients or staff on the issues of cybercrime. Some groups of organisations have also set up Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to assist in the technical handling of cybercrime, especially those targeted at computer networks.

Several multinational organisations have also contributed to the fight against cybercrime. These organisations have a unique role as some of them control the infrastructure on which the Internet runs, and include the US National Cyber Security Alliance and INTERPOL.

Other regional legal instruments include: the League of Arab States Convention on Combating IT Offences (2010), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of International Information Security, and the African Union Convention on the Confidence and Security in Cyberspace (2014).

On the global level, the UNODC is the leading organisation, with a set of international instruments to fight cybercrime. Since cybercrime often involves an organised approach, the UNODC’s Convention against Transnational Organised Crime could be used in the fight against cybercrime. Interpol facilitates a global network of 190 national police organisations, which plays a key role in the cross-border investigation of cybercrime. The ITU hosts the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) implementation process in cybersecurity, labelled the ITU Global Security Agenda.

Events

Actors

(CoE)

The Council of Europe has been actively involved in policy discussions on the issue of net neutrality.

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The Council of Europe has been actively involved in policy discussions on the issue of net neutrality. In 2010, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Declaration on network neutrality declaring its commitment to the principle of net neutrality. Later on, and in line with the Council’s Internet Governance Strategy, the Committee adopted a Recommendation on protecting and promoting the right to freedom of expression and the right to private life with regard to network neutrality, calling on member states to safeguard net neutrality in legal frameworks. Issues related to net neutrality and its connections with human rights are also tackled in events organised and studies conducted by the Council.

(ITU, UIT)
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The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) develops international standards (called recommendations) covering information and communications technologies. Standards are developed on a consensus-based approach, by study groups composed of representatives of ITU members (both member states and companies). These groups focus on a wide range of topics: operational issues, economic and policy issues, broadband networks, Internet protocol based networks, future networks and cloud computing, multimedia, security, the Internet of Things and smart cities, and performance and quality of service. The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), held every four years, defines the next period of study for the ITU-T.

(Spamhaus)

Spamhaus’s work focuses on tracking spam and providing realtime actionable threat intelligence to the Internet

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Spamhaus’s work focuses on tracking spam and providing realtime actionable threat intelligence to the Internet’s major networks, corporations, and security vendors. It also works with law enforcement agencies to identify and pursue spam worldwide. It maintains several realtime threat and reputation blocklists which protect over two billion user mailboxes and block the vast majority of spam and malware sent out on the Internet. In addition, the organisation publishes regularly updated statistics on issues such as: spam enabling countries, Internet service providers with the worst reputation for hosting spam operations, top-level domains with the worst reputation for spam operations.

(UNODC)

The UNODC’s work in the area of cybercrime is part of its wider programme on transnational organised crime, an

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The UNODC’s work in the area of cybercrime is part of its wider programme on transnational organised crime, and is mainly focused on assisting member states in strengthening their capacities to combat and prevent cybercrime. In doing so, the Office works together with national and regional partners, to improve countries’ understanding of cybercrime and related responses, enhance knowledge and skills to identity and prevent cybercrime, and strengthen regional cooperation. In 2013, the UNODC conducted a comprehensive study of cybercrime related threats and legal responses. It has also developed a Cybercrime Repository, aimed to serve as a central data repository of cybercrime laws and lesson learned.

(Interpol)

As part of its work on preventing and investigating transnational crimes, Interpol deals with advanced cybercr

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As part of its work on preventing and investigating transnational crimes, Interpol deals with advanced cybercrime (attacks against computer systems) and cyber-enabled crimes (traditional crimes facilitated by the use of digital technologies, such as crimes against children, financial crimes, and terrorism). Interpol works together with national law enforcement agencies and the private sector to investigate and tackle such types of cybercrime. It provides support to cybercrime investigations, develops innovative technologies, and assists countries in reviewing and strengthening their ability to fight cybercrime. Such activities are carried out through the Global Cybercrime Expert Group, the Global Complex for Innovation, and the Digital Crime Centre.

(WEF)

Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the

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Within the framework of its Digital Economy and Society initiative, WEF has launched the Internet for All project, aimed at bringing online tens of millions of Internet users by the end of 2019, initially through programmes targeted at the Northern Corridor in Africa, Argentina, and India. In addition to this project, WEF also undertakes research on Internet-access-related issues. One notable example is the annual Global Information Technology Report and the related Networked Readiness Index, which measures, among others, the rates of Internet deployment worldwide. Internet access and the digital divide are also addressed in the framework of various WEF initiatives such as its annual meetings and regional events.

Instruments

Conventions

Convention on Cybercrime (Budapest Convention) (2001)

Resolutions & Declarations

Wuzhen World Internet Conference Declaration (2015)
IPU Resolution on the Contribution of new information and communication technologies to good governance, the improvement of parliamentary democracy and the management of globalization (2003)

Other Instruments

UNODC Comprehensive Study on Cybercrime (2013)
Directive on fighting cybercrime within ECOWAS (2011)

Resources

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Reports

Towards a secure cyberspace via regional co-operation (2017)
Comparative analysis of the Malabo Convention of the African Union and the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime (2016)
One Internet (2016)
Stocktaking, Analysis and Recommendations on the Protection of CIIs (2016)
The Global Risks Report 2016 (2016)
National Security Implications of Virtual Currency. Examining the Potential for Non-state Actor Deployment (2015)
Best Practices to Address Online, Mobile, and Telephony Threats (2015)
A Survey on the Transposition of Directive 2011/93/EU on Combating Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Child and Child Pornography (2015)
Global Cybersecurity Index & Cyberwellness Profiles (2015)
Quarterly Spam Reports
Infoblox DNS Threat Index

GIP event reports

Applying Technology to Reinforce Security and Promote Development (2018)
DNS Quo Vadis – Addressing Challenges and the Future Functionality of the DNS (2018)
Big Data and Conflict Prevention: Balancing Opportunities with Challenges (2017)
Recent Cyber Incidents - Patterns, Vulnerabilities and Concerns (2017)
Looking Ahead: What to Expect in the Cyber Realm (2017)
DNS Abuse Discussions at ICANN60 (2017)
Global Survey of Internet User Perceptions (2017)
Cybersecurity and Cybercrime: New Tools for Better Cyber Protection (2017)
Report for World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 (2017)

Other resources

Symantec 2015 Internet Security Threat Report (2015)
Symantec Monthly Threat Report

Processes

Session reports

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WSIS Forum 2018

12th IGF 2017

WSIS Forum 2017

IGF 2016

WSIS Forum 2016

WSIS10HL

IGF 2015

 

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