Microsoft, Academia and Law Enforcement Launch Initiative to Set Up Network of Cybercrime Investigation Centres of Excellence
Appeal to European Commission to help fund universities to train law enforcement agencies; first two Centres of Excellence identified in Ireland and France.
STRASBOURG, France - Microsoft Corp., academia and law enforcement organizations have proposed that the European Commission support an initiative to establish a network of university Centres of Excellence to train law enforcement agencies on cybercrime investigation techniques.
Speaking at the Council of Europe Octopus Interface 2009 conference, Tim Cranton, associate general counsel of Worldwide Internet Safety Programs at Microsoft, announced a study produced with the support of Interpol and Europol that calls for the creation of the Cybercrime Centres of Excellence Network for Training, Research and Education (2CENTRE). He also revealed that Microsoft will support submissions for funding by universities seeking to join the 2CENTRE program made to the European Union (EU).
“Technological innovation, customer guidance and partnerships are essential to addressing the increasing complexities of cybercrime,” Cranton said. “The 2CENTRE universities will unite law enforcement, industry and academic expertise to provide an internationally coordinated cybercrime investigation training program for law enforcement agencies and the IT industry in the European Union and beyond.”
Cybercrime is estimated to cost billions of dollars a year in direct financial loss, damages and lost intellectual property, with some research putting the cost as high as $1 trillion.1 Microsoft works with law enforcement agencies to combat cybercrime around the world by providing them with investigative and forensic assistance in an effort to identify and target the cybercriminals who are preying on Internet users.
Cybercrime is also of concern to the European Commission (EC), which has advised on the creation of the 2CENTRE initiative. The initiative is in keeping with the EC’s overarching policy objective of setting up an EU cybercrime investigation training platform; in 2007 the EC issued a communication, “Towards a General Policy on the Fight Against Cybercrime,” and in its financial program, “The Prevention of and Fight Against Crime,” the EC further cemented its commitment to the issue.
“Through efforts such as Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing principle, we are making technology more secure,” said Roger Halbheer, chief security advisor for Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Though we have a long way to go and much more work to do, today it is a lot harder for cybercriminals to exploit weaknesses in our software. Unfortunately the bad guys don’t give up and go away. Instead they increasingly focus on crimes of deception that prey on human vulnerabilities rather than software vulnerabilities.”
“Internet crimes are complex, global and difficult to investigate,” said Alexander Seger, head of the Economic Crime Division, Council of Europe. “Success lies in proactive, energetic public-private partnerships such as the 2CENTRE initiative, which is a tremendous step forward and enables commerce, academia and law enforcement to come together under a shared objective.”
The first 2CENTRE programs are scheduled to go operational in 2010. Université de Technologie de Troyes (UTT) is a fast-growing university with a research focus on global and applied security risk management and a partner of Gendarmerie Nationale of France since 2001. Each year UTT awards degrees to between 50 and 60 gendarmes, half of whom graduate as cybercrime specialists known as NTECH investigators. University College Dublin in Ireland has specialized in cybercrime investigation by training law enforcement agencies around the world since 1996 and will offer a pilot course, with the assistance of Microsoft, on malware and reverse engineering this summer.
In time, other courses will be developed to teach law enforcement agencies and the IT industry techniques such as these:
• Preserving the electronic crime scene
• Investigative techniques for online crimes
• Investigative techniques for network investigations
• Evidence capture and corroboration of covert activity
• Managing intelligence-led operations
Until now, Microsoft and other IT companies have trained individual law enforcement agencies in an ad hoc manner. While important progress has been made, the growth of the cybercrime issue requires a higher level of coordination and integration. Under the initiative, Microsoft and other IT companies will donate their expertise and training materials to 2CENTRE universities, which will develop courses to academic standards that are consistent and can be shared among the 2CENTRE network.
“Academic institutions are in a position to use their considerable pool of research and education expertise to support this project,” said Dr. Joe Carthy, head of school, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, and director of the Centre for Cybercrime Investigation at University College Dublin. “The initiative is set to evolve over time to incorporate other learning and industry organizations across Europe and, ultimately, globally, which will advance the provision of high-quality training and education in the field of cybercrime.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
1 According to a January 2009 report by McAfee Inc., the global cost of cybercrime to businesses in 2008 is estimated to be as much as $1 trillion in damage and lost intellectual property.
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