INTERPOL Launches Initiative To Fight Cybercrime In Africa

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New INTERPOL Focus On African Cybercrime (Scams)

New INTERPOL Desk Targets Cybercriminals And Internet Fraud In Africa

INTERPOL is creating a new cybercrime operations desk with UK funding to boost the capacity of 49 African countries to fight cybercrime.

The Africa desk will help shape a regional strategy to drive intelligence-led coordinated actions against cybercriminals and support joint operations.

Cybercrime is one of the most prolific forms of international crime, with damages set to cost the global economy USD 10.5 trillion annually by 2025.

Speaking at the CYBERUK conference in London, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are working with like-minded partners, to make sure that the international order that governs cyber activity is fit for purpose.

“Our aim should be to create a cyberspace that is free, open, peaceful and secure, which benefits all countries and all people.

“We want to see international law respected in cyberspace, just like anywhere else. And we need to show how the rules apply to these changes in technology, the changes in threats, and the systemic attempts to render the internet a lawless space.”

A 2017 assessment coordinated by INTERPOL with partners and member countries in Africa found that each act of Internet fraud targeting businesses enabled cybercriminals to steal an average of USD 2.7 million from companies and USD 422,000 from individuals.

“With more than 4.5 billion people online, more than half of humanity is at risk of falling victim to cybercrime at any time, requiring a unified and strong response.”Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General

“The UK’s support for INTERPOL’s cyber initiative in Africa underlines its commitment to this fight and will be an important piece of the global security architecture to combat cybercrime.”

The creation of INTERPOL’s new cybercrime desk comes at a time when cybercriminals are attacking the computer networks and systems of individuals, businesses, and global organizations when cyber defenses might be more vulnerable due to the shift of focus to the pandemic crisis.

The project will provide opportunities to take regular pulse checks on cybercrime in Africa and to publish annual threat landscape assessments that will underpin operational activities.

With UK funding for the two-year initiative amounting to almost GBP 3 million, the Africa cybercrime initiative will be implemented by the Cybercrime Directorate at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore.

AFJOC – African Joint Operation against Cybercrime

  • Delivery of cybercrime operations in the Africa region
  • Project Timw Frame: 8 March 2021 – 28 Feb 2023
  • Crime area: Cybercrime
  • Countries involved: 49

Why The Project Is Needed

Cybercrimes affect all countries, but in Africa, weak networks and security make countries especially vulnerable, as well as a high number of malicious domains.

Studies conducted by INTERPOL, partners, and member countries in West Africa between 2015 and 2017 for example, showed the region had a growing underground market and high levels of social engineering/financially motivated threats against vulnerable people. A high level of Internet fraud targeting businesses, while only one-third of cybercrimes reported to law enforcement agencies each year resulted in arrests.

Subsequently, and reflecting the global trend, member countries have anecdotally reported an elevated volume in incidents. This project will take another pulse check on the region and enable us to gather research and intelligence to underpin the operation activities.

Key impediments to conducting cross-jurisdictional cybercrime investigations across Africa include inconsistency in how different countries manage and prioritize cybercrime investigations, and/or a lack of capacity among law enforcement agencies to deal with these types of crime.

INTERPOL Project Activities

The project aims to drive intelligence-led, coordinated actions against cybercrime and its perpetrators in African member countries, by creating a harmonized regional coordination framework that will produce joint action plans and conduct law enforcement activities.

At the core will be the Africa Cybercrime Operation Desk based in INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Directorate. The desk will initiate and implement the framework and drive joint operations, thereby strengthening Africa states’ capacity and capability to combat cybercrime.

Activities will focus on both pursuing the perpetrators of cybercrimes in Africa, and also on prevention activities. While the prevention activities will aim to have wide regional participation, the operational activities will be centered around countries that have already actively engaged with our Cybercrime Directorate to set a baseline for these activities.

The Major Deliverables Of The Project Will Be:

  • The AFJOC desk will collaborate with the member countries to form a framework for a coordinated response to cybercrimes that will establish work processes that law enforcement agencies in Africa can continue to adopt beyond the life of the project.
  • An Africa Cybercrime Threat Assessment will be published annually that will inform stakeholders of the key threats and consolidate regional knowledge.
  • Specific operations will be run on a regional and intra-regional level to collectively address the cyber threats based on actionable intelligence.
  • Information awareness campaigns will address the threats at the public level.