Week of action: East Midlands cyber police targeted those on ‘fringes of offending’

A number of young people in the East Midlands, who are suspected of using cyber tools in a bid to get around anti-virus computer protection, have been visited by police.

The six men aged 19 to 25 — two from Derbyshire, two from Leicestershire, one from Northamptonshire and one from Nottinghamshire — were identified as uploading and testing malware via a platform used by criminals before they launch cyber attacks to assess their ability to evade popular off-the-shelf anti-virus software.

A number of investigations across the country and throughout Europe were triggered by data shared from Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT). This led to a coordinated law enforcement operation with international reach between Monday 5 and Friday 9 June 2017.

In the UK, the NCA used this data to identify potential offenders and passed their details to cyber crime specialists in Regional Organised Crime Units for action.

Detective Chief Inspector Ed McBryde-Wilding is from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit’s Regional Cyber Crime Unit. He said: “Within the East Midlands six young people were visited to advise them about their use of the services described. These ‘cease and desist’ visits targeted first-time offenders, or those on the fringes of offending, who may not have realised the damage malware can cause.

“We are linking in with the NCA to build a picture of this type of offending across the UK and identify how we can better target individuals who are getting involved in cyber criminality.”

Four arrests were made in Wales, Yorkshire and Humber, South Eastern and Eastern Regions. All were released under investigation. A total of 31 cease and desist visits were also made, with intelligence submitted where appropriate.

Senior investigating officer David Cox, from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Regional Organised Crime Units across the UK have taken swift effective action against those who attempt to use malicious software, and have also played a vital part in deterring young offenders from committing cyber crimes in the future.

“I think a lot of people who put anti-virus protection on their computers would be astonished that there is a whole industry dedicated to trying to get around that protection. It’s why keeping antivirus software up-to-date is so important.

“Malware that has been tested through Counter Anti-Virus platforms poses a significant criminal threat to the UK, as demonstrated by the recent WannaCry attack on the NHS. Law enforcement is working collaboratively and proactively to prevent and mitigate further attacks. Denying criminals the ability to test their malware before deploying it can severely disrupt their success and their profit margins.

“The response to this kind of threat is a global one, and the NCA is part of an international network which attacks not only the cyber criminals themselves but the services they provide for each other.”

For the latest cyber protection advice visit the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Source:: Leicestershire Police News

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