Authorities all over the world pursue the biggest DDoS rental website

Coordinated by Europol and the Joint Action Task Force (J-CAT), with the support of the Dutch Police Force and British National Crime Agency, activities worldwide to detect denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) are taking place. It is believed that webstresser.org has been the world’s biggest market to hire DDoS services, collaborating to launch over 4 million attacks at a cost of only 15€ per month.

While some focus their actions specifically on users of webstresser.org, police agencies all over the world have intensified their activities against users of DDoS services in general. For this purpose,  the FBI ,on 15th December, confiscated other DDoS rental websites, including the relatively well-known Downthemi Quantum Stresser. In the same way, the Romanian Police Force has taken measures against administrators of two smaller scale DDoS platforms and has taken advantage of digital evidence including information about users.

The excessive trend in renting DDoS is an urgent issue, mainly because of how accessible it has become. At a nominal rate, any individual with limited qualifications can launch DDoS attacks with the click of a button, eliminating all websites and networks. The damage that can be done to victims can be considerable, stalling companies economically and depriving people of essential services offered by banks, government institutions and police forces.

Feeling brave thanks to a perceived anonymity, many young  new technology enthusiasts get involved in this apparently minor offence, ignoring the consequences that these online activities can cause. Cybercrime is not a crime without victims and is taken very seriously by the police. Side effects that a criminal investigation could have on the lives of these adolescents can be serious, and even amount to a prison sentence in some countries.

The impact of DDoS attacks was recently stressed by the conviction of a 30-year old hacker to almost three years in prison in the United Kingdom after being found guilty of carrying out attacks against a political leader. In November 2016, these DDoS attacks smashed against Internet access, with an attack that caused millions of pounds worth of damage.
In the Netherlands, the police and the prosecutor’s office have developed a project, known as Hack_Right , dedicated to dealing with first-time young offenders in order to prevent them from committing more serious crimes.

Decrypting skills, gambling, computer programming, cyber security or anything related to IT are in great demand and there are many degrees and opportunities available so that they can be used with care.

These actions are implemented within the EMPACT framework. In 2010, the European Union created a four-year political circle to guarantee a better continuity in the fight against international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU political cycle for the 2018-2021period. Its objective is to address the most important threats posed by international organised crime in the EU. This is achieved via the improvement and strengthening of cooperation between the relevant services of the EU member states, institutions and organisms, and also non-community countries and organisations, including the private sector, when it is relevant.

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Environmental security coordination increases all over the world

Interpol and member countries collaborate, as both organisers and participants, in several activities, such as providing support for operations or investigations, with the aim of improving environmental security all over the world.

It has several projects that aim to help the police everywhere with their investigations in this field, with training activities, operational support, information exchange and analysis of criminal information.

Fish capture

Crimes against the environment are carried out in a range of ways:

  • Crimes against wildlife: Interpol participates in specific interventions involving law enforcement, like operationThunderbird, which was designed to increase the effect of sustainability measures and the conservation of wildlife and vegetation.
  • Fishing crimes: operational and investigative activities are coordinated on a world and regional scale, but with a special interest to give support to developing countries in cases of related offences.
  • Forest crimes: training and operational support for organisms responsible for applying the law in countries that import or export wood. The objective is to improve the response of member states to criminals involved in illegal felling and deforestation, as well as tax evasion, corruption, faking documentsand laundering of capital.
  • Contamination and related offences: Interpol emphasises the operation“30 days of action”, developed in the summer of 2017 and focused on illegal dumping and the illegal commerce related to dangerous waste. Information was givenabout 483 people and 264 companies were accused of crimes and offences related to the illegal treatment of waste, and 1.5 million tons of waste were located.

Interpol is part of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crimes (ICCWC), which aims to reinforce penal justice system sand provide coordinated support on a national, regional and international scale, to combat crime against wildlife and forests.

Concurrently, Interpol can give technical and investigative support in specific cases with investigation support teams. These teams are composed of law-enforcement agents and analysts with specialised knowledge in the forensic, analytical and technical field, and with competences in the world of crime.

It also organises investigation and analysis meetings related to cases so that investigators from different countries and regions can discuss transnational cases of common interest or exchange information.

Finally, the so-called NEST groups –National Environmental Security Teams– are multidisciplinary teams of experts from different national organisms, among these the police, the customs service, ministries responsible for the environment and the prosecutors.

Analysis of criminal information facilitates the decision-making processfor investigators, governing bodies and other interlocutors of law enforcement agencies and guarantees a focus on Police activities based on strategic information.

Related postings

https://notesdeseguretat.blog.gencat.cat/2018/12/19/first-global-operation-against-marine-pollution/

https://notesdeseguretat.blog.gencat.cat/2017/09/06/interpol-reinforces-its-fight-against-environmental-crime/

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Urban insecurity rises again in Brazil

Brazil beat its murder record in 2017: 63,880 murders, 175 deaths every day, and 3 % more than the previous year, according to the Brazil Public Security Forum. What underlies this trend? Organised crime is a key factor that causes it to increase.

favelaThe rate of murders in Brazil has risen with the arrival of the world’s biggest drug traffickers: from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Brazil is an important consumer of cocaine and crack; it is also a transit country for drugs being transported to Europe and Asia.

A report published by International Institute of Strategic Studies stresses the challenges involved in addressing organised crime to guarantee effective urban security in all cities worldwide, but especially in the “favelas” of Brazil like Maré. This is in Rio de Janeiro, and is one of the biggest favelas, with a total of 130,000 residents. According to Patrícia Vianna, coordinator of the NGO Redes, the number of armed civilians has increased over the last 4 years.

During these 4 years public security in the State of Rio has worsened, coinciding with a political and economic crisis that has affected public policies. Rio’s public administration carried out a “pacifying strategy”. This involved a series of military interventions by military police and the permanent presence of a police pacifying unit. Between 2008 and 2012, this strategy worked quite well to the point that the World Bank regarded is as the best international strategy. But in February 2018, the federal government intervened and temporarily transferred these competences from Rio security institutions to the federal armed forces.
Maré, an overpopulated and extremely impoverished area, has been used as a laboratory for military intervention. Between 2014 and 2015 about 2,500 soldiers patrolled the area; during these years, homicide rates fell sharply (from 21 to 5 per 100,000 inhabitants), according to the Ministry of Defence. However, the problem with this strategy is that it never achieved a solution. “The pacifying strategy” was simply a short-term solution, which avoided addressing the main causes of the problem. Once the military forces left, Maré went back to being an area controlled by criminal factions.
The situation of this favela in Rio is not an isolated problem that is only found in Brazil. As the urban population grows in cities in developing countries in areas like Asia or Africa, situations like the one affecting Rio may increasingly occur.

Links of interest:

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Latest trends in drug trafficking in Europe

On 6th and 7th December 2018, 125 delegates from the member states of the EU, third countries and representatives of 11 international organisations met at the headquarters of Europol for the second annual “Drugs in Europe: a firm legal response” conference. Delegates discussed the latest trends in illegal drug trafficking and agreed on legislative responses to protect the public from the threats linked to illegal drugs.

The number of groups of organised crime and the provision of illegal drugs are increasing. Roughly 35 % of the 5,000 organised crime groups that practise in the EU on an International scale participate in the production, trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs. Organised criminal groups involved in the drug trade are extremely versatile. About 65 % of these simultaneously participate in other criminal activities like the sale of fake products, Money laundering, people trafficking and migrant smuggling. The illegal drugs market is the biggest criminal market in the EU and it is estimated that it generates about 24 mil million euros every year.

During the conference, delegates came to the following conclusions:

  • The number of organised crime groups is increasing as is the provision of illegal drugs. These phenomena constitute a growing threat to security and public health in the European Union and its state members, which have to guarantee suitable resources to combat these.
  • The illegal provision of drugs is a catalyst for high-level organised crime groups. It is the most lucrative part of their activities generating profits that are also related to violence, corruption, Money laundering, the exploitation of people, arms trafficking and other types of serious crime. A coordinated response is necessary on the part of the EU and its member states to the increase in organised crime and drug trafficking.
  • The organised crime groups that pose the greatest risk are increasingly more transnational. They carry out cross-border activities both within and outside the European Union. Police authorities of the member states of the EU need to improve information exchange, operative cooperation and coordination of activities.
  • High-level organised crime groups are changing thanks to their versatility. Their illegal activities are evolving very rapidly. As well as their investigations into illegal activities and commerce, police authorities should centre their operative activities on persons and groups that pose the biggest risk of committing serious organised crime in the EU.
  • Investigations into cross-border drug trafficking and organised crime call for the prompt availability of, among other things, the latest technology.
  • Given that organised crime affects all aspects of society, it is necessary to stress the importance of the development and implementation of global legislation to recover assets in order to effectively avoid these phenomena.
  • To address the challenges caused by the increase in drug trafficking and organised crime, a European Network (informal) has been created by the heads of Central Organised Services and Investigation of Drug-Related Crime in order to improve cooperation at both a tactical and strategic level, to design common actions and pursue a holistic approach.

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First global operation against marine pollution

With the codename 30 days at sea, the month-long operation (1-31 October 2018), 276 police forces and environmental organisms from 58 countries detected over 500 crimes and serious cases of worldwide pollution: like illegal pouring of petrol of waste from ships, breaking down and sinking of ships, violations of regulations and the contamination of rivers and land being tipped into the sea.

Directed by a global network of 122 national coordinators, environmental, maritime and cross border agencies, police forces, customs services and port authorities participated in the operation 30 days at sea. Over 5,200 inspections were carried out which involved at least 185 investigations, with the planned arrests and accusations.

Some cases of serious pollution are:

  • In the Philippine coastal waters, where local communities gather shellfish and where children play.
  • In Germany, a ship tipped 600 litres of palm oil into the sea.
  • Ghana discovered gallons of residual oil in large bottles that were being sold illegally by the sea.
  • The authorities prevented an environmental disaster in Albania by securing water around a recipient that was sinking with 500 litres of petrol on board.
  • Similarly, the threat of contamination due to a collision involving two ships in French waters was contained thanks to preventive action during the operation.

Apart from this, with the use of new technologies the authorities are able to detect offences, with the use of satellite (in Argentina and Sweden), air surveillance (Canada and Italy), drones (Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan) and night surveillance with cameras. In a prevention-oriented change, visible surveillance technologies used in Qatar and Norway prompted the obligation to strictly abide by norms.

The pollution crime work group of INTERPOL implemented 30 days at sea in response to the call to increase the action of international law against the emerging environmental crime, via actions in this field.

Coordinated by the programme of Environmental Security of INTERPOL in close collaboration with Europol, 30 days at sea was promoted by a series of actions of cooperation in terms of enforcement, including:

  • Joint tactical planning between countries (for example .: Canada – USA, Indonesia – East Timor);
  • Global deployment of police forces, including the annual cooperation between the national agencies of South Africa focused on sea pollution crime.
  • Joint bilateral investigations (for example, The Netherlands – South Africa, Germany, Belgium).
  • Awareness raising about sea contamination

30 days at sea was accompanied by an awareness raising campaign in collaboration within the context of the UN to illustrate the impact that marine contamination has on the development of the economy, and human and environmental security.

With the hashtag #PollutionCrime, along with #CleanSeas on Twitter, initiatives in the fight against crime involving marine contamination can be observed, thanks to the operation 30 days at sea.

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Illegal pharmaceutical products online: unnecessary risks, criminal profits


With Operation Pangea XI by Interpol, which lasted a week during the month of October, police authorities, customs and health regulators from 116 countries took action against the illegal online sale of medication and medical products, which led to 859 arrests all over the world and requisition of potentially dangerous drugs valued at 14 million American dollars.

Among the potentially dangerous medication intervened during this operation were false anti-cancer medication, fake painkillers, unusable medical syringes, etc. Almost a million packets were inspected, with 500 tonnes of illegal pharmaceutical products confiscated all over the world.

These include anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, erectile dysfunction pills, hypnotics and sedatives, steroids, slimming pills and medication to treat HIV, Parkinson’s and diabetes. Over 110,000 medical devices were also confiscated, including syringes, contact lenses, audio phones and surgical instruments.

Criminals also tried to avoid the detection of illegal medication with false labelling of deliveries as original products. For example, over 4 million non-labelled ibuprofen pills were intercepted in Argentina after having been declared to be a sample, and in the United Kingdom about 150,000 strong sleeping pills were retrieved in deliveries labelled as clothes, bedding or food.

Falsified medical devices confiscated during the operation included 737 expired cardiac surgical instruments that were introduced via Macedonia.

During the operation 3,671 web links were closed, including websites, social network pages and online markets.

The operation also spread the word about possible associated dangers with the purchase of online pharmaceutical products via videos, leaflets, exhibitions and talks in hospitals and educational centres.

Interpol coordinated the operation with the support of the World Customs Organisation WCO), the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime(PFIPC), the Working Group of Enforcement Officers(WGEO), Europol, the Pharmaceutical Security Institute(PSI), as well as Twitter, Facebook and credit/debit card companies.

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Trafficking of minors: victims and criminals

On 18 October, on the occasion of European Anti-People Trafficking Day, a new Europol report was presented on trafficking of minors with up-to-date information related to this criminal phenomenon.

For the first time in this field, the report provides an insight into the features of criminal networks involved in one of the most sinister crimes of all: the abuse of vulnerable children. For the purpose of the report, operational intelligence was used drawing from 600 contributions that implicated victims of minor trafficking, which were communicated to Europol by member states between 2015 and 2017.

In Europe, thousands of minors continue to be the object of trafficking and exploitation in order to generate profits for criminal networks, which represent over 20% of all identified victims of trafficking according to UNICEF. Europol receives increasing amounts of information about trafficking networks that operate via member states, taking advantage of the vulnerability of children, to exploit them sexually or exploit them in terms of labour. Other criminal groups place victims in the streets to ask for money, oblige them to commit a range of crimes or sell them via illegal adoption networks.

These are some of the conclusions of the report of the situation of criminal networks related to the trafficking and exploitation of minors in the European Union:

  • One of the most serious aspects of this phenomenon is the role of the family, which in some cases directly procures the trafficking and exploitation of its own children. Europol receives recurring information of children being sold to criminal networks by their families.
  • Women tend to have a key role in the trafficking and exploitation of minors, much more than in criminal networks where they are victims of adult trafficking.
  • Most cases reported to Europol involve networks that accompany non-community minors along the route from their country of origin to the site of exploitation, often with the participation of smuggling networks. Illegal trafficking of minors via external borders and to member states usually involves the use of false travel documents.
  • The profits gained with such crime are mainly redirected to the suspect’s country of origin, in small quantities via services transferring money and in larger quantities using mails and criminal mules.
  • Children trafficking is directed towards the EU from all over the world. Most non-community networks of people trafficking informed Europol that groups of organised criminals were involved. For example, In Nigeria young people were deceived and forced to be sexually exploited in Europe.
  • Migrating children and non-accompanied minors were at a high risk of being trafficked and exploited. Although the scale of the trafficking of non-accompanied minors continues to be unknown, an increase is expected in the future.

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Coordination and intelligence are necessary to fight against people trafficking and smuggling

Global experts from about 70 countries met at the end of September this year in Abuja, Nigeria, to forge a united front against the complex international groups behind people trafficking and migrant smuggling.

The sixth World Conference of Interpol regarding the fight against people trafficking took place in cooperation with the National Agency for the Prohibition of People Trafficking, and the Police and the Nigerian Agency of Immigration.

With over 500 specialists from the world of policing, the private, public sector, and non-governmental and International organisations, the event shaped global points of view regarding:

  • Potential threats and current trends
  • Financial flows involved in such crimes
  • The crucial role of inter-sectorial associations
  • How to overcome obstacles in criminal proceedings
  • The use of technology and data in investigations

Groups trafficking people and smuggling migrants are often linked to other types of crime, like money laundering, security document fraud, drugs, cybercrime and terrorism.

Organised crime networks have adopted technology and used Internet and social communications networks to attract potential customers and advertise their services. They are essentially sellers of their services to vulnerable people.

Over the last year, operations led by Interpol, Epervier, Libertad and Sawiyan have led to the rescue of about 1,000 victims of migrant trafficking and people smuggling. Thanks to the coordinated focus involved in training and pre-operation collaboration between state police forces, NGOs and social services, these operations have contributed to a long-term police investigative capacity and the appropriate attention to those rescued.

As a neutral and global platform for the Exchange of Police information, Interpol offers the police access in real time to criminal databases that contain millions of records of identity documents, biometrics and wanted people. Their notifications can also be used to alert member countries about fugitives, modus operandi or people who have disappeared.

At the beginning of this year, the Global Task Force for People Trafficking of Interpol received the support of G7 security ministers. The workgroup is the backbone of a range of initiatives that offer investigative support, criminal analysis, training and regional workshops in Interpol member countries.

The World Conference in Abuja was followed by meetings of the Group of Experts in People Trafficking of Interpol and the Interpol Operative Network Specialised in illegal trafficking. These operative groups have a fundamental role in the creation of networks that share specific information about threats, trends, routes and modus operandi.

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Drug trafficking continues to be one of the main sources of finance for terrorism

For the western world, one of the main modern-day threats in terms of security is terrorism, a global phenomenon that cannot be controlled solely at national level, as it requires the cooperation of those governments and security forces affected. One of the greatest threats is drug trafficking, which, like the former, requires a high level of collaboration to establish policies and common legislation.

Both threats are closely related. Traditionally, drug trafficking has been one of the main sources of finance for non-state armed groups and terrorist groups. This is confirmed by the recent study World Atlas of Illicit Flows(2018),the result of collaboration between Interpol, the RHIPTO and Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. As the study indicates, 4% of the illegal flow ends up in the hands of terrorist information.

According to the document, although crimes against the environment (the trafficking of coal and petroleum, the illegal exploitation of minerals, illegal forest exploitation and animal trafficking) have come to represent the primary source of finance for terrorist groups(38% of the total), trafficking continues to be the main source if we consider environmental initiatives to be independent activities. It is estimated that the income of the seven principal terrorist groups and rebel groups of the Democratic Republic of Congo are about 1,160 million dollars, 28% of which (330 million dollars) comes from activities related to drugs. The two organisations that have traditionally profited from trafficking are the Taliban, with the cultivation of opium and heroin trafficking, and the FARC, with cocaine.

In the case of the Taliban, operational in Afghanistan, the cultivation of opium has traditionally been an important source of finance. According to current data, they have average revenue of between 75 and 95 million dollars, approximately 22.9 million dollars of which, comes from activities related to the cultivation of opium, from which morphine is abstracted and from which heroin is produced. Heroin produced in Afghanistan represents about three quarters of the total production and serves to supply the entire world market. In Europe, the heroin market is the second most important drug-related market considering the amount of money it turns over, about 6.8 billion Euros a year.

Since its inception, the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, known as the FARC, regarded the cultivation of drugs (cocaine and cannabis) a counter revolutionary activity. In 1981, however, its policy changed due to the fear of alienating agricultural workers and the evident increase in finance that drug-trafficking would involve, managing to control up to 70% of the areas where cocaine was produced and therefore becoming the main actor in cocaine trafficking in the country. According to InSight Crime, a foundation dedicated to the study of organised crime in the Caribbean and Latin America, the FARC had, in 2015-2016, assets to the value of 580 million dollars, most of which (267 million dollars) came from activities related to drugs and illegal mining. Although in 2017 peace agreements began between the government and the FARC, some of its members didn’t accept these and organised themselves into dissident groups. One of these, the so-called East Block (or Oriental), has gone on to control an important part of the country’s cocaine trafficking.

According to the World Atlas, since 2015 a growth in the use two drugs has been noticed by some members of Islamic State: tramadol and phenethylamines. The first is an opioid with an analgesic function and the second a psycho-stimulant. These drugs are located especially in Syria and Iraq, but with an added presence in the Trans-Saharan area (Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Libya). Islamic State takes charge of the trafficking and selling of these two substances, both to combatants and those who are not.

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Several ways to be a victim of a cybernetic crime

The fifth annual Europol report on organised criminal threats (IOCTA) offers a unique vision of the application of the law to emerging threats and the key developments in the field of cybercrime over the last year. However, more than this, it describes future threats and provides recommendations to the European police authorities to deal with these threats appropriately.

Cybercriminals are adopting new creative techniques to deceive their victims and are constantly seeking methods to avoid police detection. Some of the most used methods by cybercriminals are the following:

  1. Ransomware: criminals go from random attacks to attacking companies or particular individuals, where potential profits are higher.
  2. Mobile malware can grow as users go from their online bank to the mobile bank.
  3. Cybernetic attacks have become more difficult to detect. The attacks used by the wireless malware programme have turned into a standard component in the criminal industry.
  4. Legislation of the general norms for data protection include an obligation to notify offences within 72 hours. Criminals can try to extort violated organisations.
  5. The latest reason for network intrusions is the illegal acquisition of data with different ends, including phishing or fraud payment.
  6. DoS attacks continue to grow and the tools for launching them are easily available as a service, which allows non-qualified individuals to launch important DoS attacks.
  7. A continued increase is expected in the volume of social engineering attacks, but as a key component of more complex cyberattacks. In the future, the scammers of western Africa will probably have a more important role within the EU, as Africa continues to have use of the fastest growing internet on an international scale.
  8. Cybernetic attacks that traditionally focused on traditional financial instruments are now aimed at companies and users of crypto coins
  9. The increase in extortion demands and ransomware in these currencies exemplifies this change.
  10. Online child sex exploitation continues to be the most worrying aspect of cybercrime, with volumes of material, beyond imagination ten years ago, partly because of the growing number of small children with access to enabled devices for internet and social networks.
  11. This leads to an explosion of self-generated material.
  12. Criminals are continually looking for new ways of avoiding Police detection, including anonymization and encryption tools, everyday communication applications with end-to-end encryption, social network platforms or even within the bitcoin blocking chain. Most materials are still found on the surface of Internet, but some of the most extreme material tends to be located on hidden services that can only be accessed via the dark net.
  13. Live broadcasting of child sex abuse continues to be an especially difficult crime to investigate and it is likely to increase even more in the future.
  14. The faking of payment cards (skimming) continues to be successful inasmuch as the magnetic bands of the cards are used.
  15. Telecommunications fraud is an old trend, but a growing one, that involves non-cash payments.

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