Can the public help catch cyber criminals?


Europol has proposed EU internet users could get involved in catching cyber criminals via an online reporting system.

Web denizens would provide any information they have so the system could "collect all internet crime reported online at a national level, in a harmonised way across the EU," according to director of Europol Rob Wainwright.

Wainright said this database would be used to help police make connections between different investigations taking place across the EU, the BBC reported.

"For the first time the EU will have a comprehensive overview of reported cyber crime from within its own borders and this could even include, in the future, a component of direct engagement with the public," he said.

However, the efficacy of such a "crowd sourcing" project has been questioned by an internet security expert.

Luis Corrons, technical director at PandaLabs, told IT PRO he had his reservations about how the task of recording and making use of the data supplied by the public would work.

"Law enforcement has not enough resources," Corrons claimed.

"It's not the problem that they don't have enough information We can increase the number of reports they get, that'll be great, but who is going to look at that?"

Indeed, the EU has been criticised in the past for its overly bureaucratic nature.

Another issue is the contrasting laws of the various EU member states, Corrons said, noting how something that is illegal in one country may not be in another.

"There are no countries on the internet," he added.

"At least in the European Union we should be able to figure something out. The good thing is that the situation is so bad, and it's only getting worse, but in the end they'll realise they have to do something."

The EU has made a number of moves in the cyber security space this year, with the first ever pan-European cyber war simulation successfully carried out.

Several member states took part, including the UK where a cyber attack centre was established.

Last month, the European Commission presented a set of new EU measures covering security, including proposals for greater cyber space protection.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.