United States publishes National Cybersecurity Strategy 2023

In early March this year, as reported by the OODALoop website, the unveiling of the National Cybersecurity Strategy 2023 at the White House was a testament to the weight that the U.S. government places on cybersecurity, as it considers the publication to be truly incredible and the best of all the strategy documents produced over the decades, as well as a job well done by the leadership of the White House Office of the National Cyber Director.

It should not be forgotten that 2022 was marked by threats, incidents and vulnerabilities of breath-taking and relentless frequency, volume and scale. The vital role of federal cybersecurity professionals was highlighted by the U.S. government. They are considered to be the defenders who successfully fight to protect the homeland against a major cyberattack in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT), physical security, critical infrastructure or industrial control systems (ICS).

However, the strategy document is a clear look at the crucial role the private sector has always played in an industry sector led almost exclusively by governance, innovation, market forces, platforms and private sector products.

To this end, the 2023 National Cybersecurity Strategy lays out two fundamental changes in the way the United States allocates roles, responsibilities, and resources to cyberspace, and states that, in making these changes a reality, it aims not only to improve defences, but to change those underlying dynamics that currently work against U.S. interests. The two fundamental changes are:

  • Rebalancing the responsibility for defending cyberspace by shifting the burden of cybersecurity away from individuals, small businesses and local governments, and doing so towards the organisations that are most capable and best positioned to reduce risks to all citizens.
  • Realigning incentives to favour long-term investments and strike a careful balance between fending off today’s urgent threats while strategically planning for and investing in a resilient future.

This strategy recognises that the government must use all the tools of national power in a coordinated manner to protect national security, public safety and economic prosperity.

The strategy also shifts the burden of dealing with cyber threats from consumers and small businesses to technology companies that provide software, systems and services.

The roadmap, if adopted into law, would likely make technology companies liable for any vulnerabilities in their code that lead to a cyberattack.

The White House strategy document also calls out the governments of China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and other states considered autocratic for their reckless disregard for the rule of law and human rights in cyberspace.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

The U.S. Council on Policing Reforms and Race releases its report and recommendations

At the beginning of 2023, the U.S. Council on Policing Reforms and Race officially presented over fifty research-based recommendations to help address some of the most pressing problems facing police and public safety in the United States. These recommendations can be used as a roadmap for policy makers, officials, police executives and community leaders interested in improving public safety.

The National Policing Institute convened the Council as an independent body to pinpoint opportunities for policing reforms with a focus on helping to address racial disparities. The Council includes young people, community members, business and religious leaders, law enforcement leaders and researchers.

The Council’s recommendations are related to traffic stops, mental health and substance abuse, body cameras, community-based violence prevention, police culture, fines and fees, policing in schools and other important aspects of public safety.

In 2020, the National Policing Institute announced the formation of the Policing Reforms and Race Council, an independent initiative aimed at supporting excellence in policing, addressing racial disparities, and building and enhancing trust and legitimacy.

The Council is a non-partisan, majority African American-led initiative that uses research and evidence to consider and offer recommendations for solving some of the most important and pressing issues related to policing reforms and race.

In doing so, the Institute recognizes the role that racism, prejudice, social and organizational culture, and patterns and practices have played in the deterioration of trust and respect between law enforcement and African American communities. Thus, the Institute accompanies the Council to offer comments, recommendations and solutions to address these problems.

While several national panels and commissions have been presented previously to address similar areas of concern, this effort distinguishes itself by bringing together a broad cross-section of perspectives, indicating what we know and don’t know regarding these issues, and raising the voices of African Americans working inside and outside the policing profession.

The recommendations section of the report lists actions that should be taken to reduce or eliminate racial disparities in different contexts, such as police traffic stops, police culture or violence prevention.

Regarding the police culture section, the recommendations are based on enhancing the community perspective within police organisations, promoting a culture of safety and community service, conducting research on police culture and strategies to change this culture, improving legitimacy through procedural justice and enhancing training and certification standards to support a culture of safety and service.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

December 2021 U.S. federal incarceration statistics released

The federal prisoner statistics presented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and collected through the Federal Bureau of Prisons on specific topics reports this data annually around the end of the year.

The published statistics correspond to the calendar year 2021 and detail a wide range of characteristics related to the prisons, inmates and staff, as well as the conditions of the facilities. Among the most noteworthy are the following:

The federal prison population increased by more than 3%, going from 151,283 inmates at the end of 2020 to 156,542 in the same period of 2021.

Around the end of 2021, about 85% of people in federal prisons were U.S. citizens.

Among the total number of prisoners, seven cases of sexual assault were committed against prison staff, of which two involved the use of force or death threats.

By the end of 2021, there were a total of 8,605 citizens registered to volunteer at a federal correctional facility. Of these people, 6,651 were registered for long-term service and 1,954 for 4 days or less.

In the United States there are 122 federal correctional facilities, all with video conferencing capabilities and capacities for participating in court hearings, consultations with foreign embassies, communications with parole offices, preliminary re-entry preparation, disciplinary hearings, and for the Institutional Hearing Program. It should be added that all these prisons are equipped with professional healthcare.

Over the past year, there were a total of 378 people who received medication-assisted treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for substance abuse before being admitted to prisons. It is also worth mentioning that 1,127 people received the treatment while already incarcerated.

During 2021, a total of 73,459 prohibited acts were committed by 47,000 inmates in the various federal prisons. Of these, 35,433 (48%) were of moderate severity, 19,630 (27%) were of high severity and the remaining 25% (18,206) were of greatest severity.

In 2021, prison staff were physically assaulted by federal prisoners in 1,111 separate disturbances, resulting in 10 cases of serious injury to workers.

The four facilities with the most prohibited acts in 2021 were all high-security facilities: Thomson Administrative U.S. Penitentiary in Illinois (1,568 cases), Victorville U.S. Penitentiary in California (1,362 cases), Tucson U.S. Penitentiary in Arizona (1,338 cases) and Lee U.S. Penitentiary in Virginia (1,279 cases).

During the full year, the risk of recidivism was assessed in a total of 142,871 inmates in federal prison through the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs (PATTERN). About 34% of federal prisoners assessed as of 31 December 2021 were classified at high risk of recidivism, 19% at medium risk, 31% at low risk, and 15% at minimal risk.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

Tenth edition of the European Cybersecurity Agency report – ENISA

This is the tenth edition of the report ENISA Threat Landscape (ETL), an annual report on the global state of cybersecurity threats. The document identifies the main threats, the main trends observed in terms of threats, threat actors and attack techniques, as well as impact and motivation analysis. It also outlines the most relevant mitigation measures currently in place.

This year’s work was again supported by ENISA’s ad hoc Working Group on Cybersecurity Threat Landscapes (CTL). During the ETL 2022 reporting period, the main threats identified include: ransomware, malware, social engineering threats, threats against data, threats against availability: denial of service, Internet threats, disinformation and supply chain attacks.

For each of the identified threats, certain attack techniques and notable incidents and trends are proposed, along with mitigation measures. In terms of trends during the reporting period, the document highlights the following:

Impact of geopolitics on the cybersecurity threat landscape:

  • The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has reshaped the threat landscape during the reporting period.
  • Geopolitics continues to have a very strong impact on cyber operations.
  • Destructive attacks are a prominent component of the operations of state actors.
  • Disinformation is a tool in cyberwarfare. It was used even before the “physical” war began as a preparatory activity for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The ransomware and availability attacks are the highest during the reporting period:

  • Significant increase in availability attacks, especially DDoS, and the ongoing war are the main reasons for these attacks.
  • Phishing is again the most common vector for initial access. Advances in phishing sophistication, user fatigue and targeted, context-based phishing have led to this increase. New bait in social engineering threats is focusing on the Ukraine-Russia conflict in a similar way to what happened during the COVID-19 situation.
  • Malware is on the rise again after the decline that was noted, linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • DDoS are becoming larger and more complex, are moving towards mobile and IoT networks and are used in the context of cyberwarfare.

New, hybrid and emerging threats are shaping the threat landscape with great impact.

  • Disinformation and deepfakes with artificial intelligence.
  • Understanding trends related to threat actors, their motivations and objectives greatly helps to prepare cybersecurity defences and mitigation strategies. Therefore, for the purposes of ETL 2022, the following four categories of cybersecurity threat actors are again considered: state-sponsored actors, cybercrime actors, hacker-for-hire actors and hacktivists.

Through continuous analysis, ENISA obtained trends, patterns and insights for each of the major threats presented in the ETL 2022 report. The conclusions and key judgements of this assessment are based on multiple and available resources provided to the references used for the development of this document. The report is primarily aimed at strategic decision makers and policy makers, while being of interest to the technical cybersecurity community.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

Community safety is about much more than just crime

Researcher Trevor Hancock published an article in Timescolonist.com concerning a study on the safety of communities, in which he considers that this safety often focuses on the issue of crime or violence, but for him safety is much more than that.

However, he also believes that there is a very different understanding of safety in Europe compared to North America.

In Europe, the Safe Communities movement was largely centred around preventing accidents, what in public safety we call ‘unintentional injuries’. But in North America the focus of the work on safe communities has been primarily on crime and violence prevention, part of what we call ‘intentional injuries’.

From a public safety perspective, unintentional injuries are by far the biggest problem. A report by the Injury Prevention Committee notes that injuries are the leading cause of death for people between 1 and 44 years of age and the fourth leading cause of death for all ages.

Hancock identifies three priorities for injury prevention: elderly falls, transportation-related injuries, and suicide and self-injury. However, even within the assault category, the priority should not be random violence perpetrated against strangers, but family violence and sexual violence.

A 2021 Statistics Canada report noted that one-quarter of victims of police-reported violence are victimized by a family member, while two-thirds of all victims of family violence are women and girls.

In addition, such violence, as well as sexual violence, is very scarcely reported. 80% of spousal violence was not reported to police. Aside from that, community safety is not just about violence, or even crime in general, but about feeling safe.

For example, assault – particularly random violence – is considered far more frightening (and more newsworthy) than the far more numerous cases of falls and traffic accidents, which too often seem to be accepted as part of the fabric of everyday life or the price we pay for mobility.

This tells us that perception and emotion are important when it comes to security, not just data.

People may feel unsafe for all sorts of reasons, often having little to do with criminal activity or police powers.

Indigenous people, people of colour, LGBTQ people and others may feel unsafe because of discriminatory attitudes, comments or behaviours that are not criminal. And, of course, dark streets and parks make many of us feel unsafe, while people are worried and perhaps frightened by those acting strangely or living on the street.

So, if we really want a safer community, we need to have quite a broad perspective on what makes our community unsafe for people, and not get sucked into an understanding of safety that is too narrowly defined as a matter of crime, violence, and law and order.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

Report on the proposed strategic review of policing in England and Wales

The first half of 2022 saw the launch of the report A New Model of Protection, which contains the final paper of the strategic review of policing in England and Wales. The report is based on the desire to redesign public safety for the 21st century.

The paper is set in the early days of the creation of policing in England, characterised by the development of a policing model in which the work of officers did not depend primarily on the use of power, but rather on confidence and cooperation with society. Unfortunately, 200 years later, they recognise that there is a crisis of public confidence in police institutions.

The report finds that the percentage of people who think the police do a good or excellent job has been declining in recent years. And that lack of confidence in the police is most pronounced in London, related in part to recent cases of police misconduct. However, this report reveals that there are also much deeper, long-standing causes why this model of policing no longer seems able to meet society’s expectations.

However, it is not only society that has lost its confidence, many police officers have also done so, as despite working hard and having a desire to serve the citizen, they too often feel inadequate. Another cause would be the impact of austerity between 2010 and 2017. The number of police officers decreased from 143,000 to around 123,000, which resulted in citizens complaining that they did not see uniformed police officers on the streets and therefore felt less safe.

In this regard, frustration in the police also arises from the fact that they only collect theft reports superficially in order to give free rein to insurance companies, but there is no investigation behind them. All this is occurring in a time of profound changes due to globalisation and the evolution of technology. 40% of all reported crimes are frauds, and most of them cyber.

The report highlights that crime in the digital age is being tackled with an analogue policing approach. The police have also become a public service of last resort, picking up on the previous failures of other social services, such as missing persons calls, most of which come from young people in care.

To address some of these issues, the paper proposes, among others:

  • A radical shift towards a more systemic preventive approach. It proposes the creation of a Crime Prevention Agency, with strong regulatory powers, especially for businesses.
  • Significantly improve the capacity to tackle cross-border crime and organised crime. It proposes the creation of a National Crime Agency.
  • Strengthen local and neighbourhood policing. This would be the best way to restore society’s confidence in the police.
  • Provide police officers with better tools to perform their job and encourage the entry of qualified people with specialised skills through salary supplements.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

Personal Firearms Storage in the United States

Both public health and gun rights advocates absolutely agree that gun owners should store their firearms in a way that prevents unauthorised persons from gaining access to them.

Correct storage can help avoid unintentional firearm deaths and injuries among minors. Moreover, a strong theoretical case can also be made for preventing suicide by restricting access to lethal weapons.

The rand.org website has published a study on protection around firearms containing recent estimates, patterns and effectiveness of interventions.

Numerous studies have produced results in line with these theories, and public health organizations, such as the World Health Organization, generally agree on this.

Storing firearms under lock and key and unloaded is necessary to limit access to these lethal weapons. For these reasons, public health policy campaigns have been created and implemented to promote the safe storage of firearms owned by individuals.

This study analyses what is meant by safe storage of firearms and provides estimates of the storage practices of U.S. gun owners from representative surveys at the national and state level. This is complemented by research on selected populations with data from 2010, which includes populations of interest because of current events and at risk of harm, such as persons who purchased a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic, households with minors, persons with mental health conditions or at risk of suicide, and military or veteran populations.

The report describes how Americans typically store their firearms and the rationale for storage practices. It also reviews research on the effectiveness of interventions that seek to change firearm storage practices. These interventions are qualified as clinical, community-based, and public policy interventions.

The study concludes that multiple groups of interested parties recommend that firearms be kept locked up and unloaded, and that ammunition be stored separately. Most empirical evidence to date indicates that approximately half of gun owners keep their firearms locked up, and one-third keep them locked up and unloaded. The greatest influence on storage practices among those who do not store their firearms as recommended are perceptions of risk and protection. Those with more guns and those with only handguns are less likely to store guns as recommended, while households with minors are more likely to store guns as recommended.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

The state and trends of terrorism in the European Union

Recently published by Europol, the European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2022 (TE-SAT) provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date intelligence study on terrorism in the European Union.

The Europol TE-SAT 2022 report is based on quantitative data provided to Europol by EU Member States on terrorist attacks, arrests and court rulings issued for terrorist offences. Europol’s partners also provided qualitative information and valuable insights that enrich the report’s conclusions.

The findings of TE-SAT 2022 confirm that terrorism still represents a real and present danger to the European Union:

In 2021, 15 completed, foiled, or failed terrorist attacks were recorded in the European Union. The four completed attacks included three jihadist terrorist attacks and one far-left terrorist attack.

EU law enforcement authorities arrested 388 suspects for terrorism-related offences in 2021. Of these, more than two-thirds (260) were carried out following investigations into jihadist terrorism offences in Austria, France, and Spain.

Court proceedings concluded in 2021 resulted in 423 convictions for terrorism offences.

Lone actors continue to be the main perpetrators of terrorist and violent extremist attacks in Europe. However, planned attacks involving several actors were also interrupted during 2021. Individuals who carry out attacks alone have been associated primarily with jihadist terrorism, right-wing terrorism, and violent extremism.

In 2021, terrorists used weapons that are relatively easy to obtain and do not require high skills for assembly or use. Weapons used in attacks in the EU in 2021 included bladed weapons, vehicles (in impact attacks), and improvised incendiary devices.

Furthermore, the terrorist propaganda spread online in 2021 continued to reflect COVID-19 related topics. Increased time spent online due to pandemic restrictions, among other reasons, is a risk factor in vulnerable individuals’ potential route to extremism.

Violent anti-COVID-19 and anti-government extremism, which is not affiliated with traditional terrorist and violent extremist activities, emerged in some Member States and non-EU countries. These manifestations of violent extremism took the form of open threats, hate messages spread on the web and, in some cases, the use of violence.

Geopolitical developments in key regions outside the EU influence terrorist narratives and propaganda spread in Member States. The current terrorist threat to Member States appears not to have been directly affected by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan. However, it increased global attention to religiously motivated insurgencies and thus provided jihadists affiliated with both Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) terrorist group with opportunities to promote their arguments.

TE-SAT delves into the following types of terrorism: jihadist terrorism, right-wing terrorism, left-wing and anarchist terrorism, ethnonationalist and separatist terrorism, and other types of terrorism.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

The threat of environmental crime in the European Union

Environmental crime generates millions of euros of dirty money every year in the European Union alone, but it remains extremely difficult for law enforcement to connect cases to organised crime activities. Legal discrepancies among countries, low risk of detection and marginal penalties make environmental crime a very attractive business for criminal entrepreneurs.

However, something is changing: crimes against the environment are attracting more and more attention as climate change has become a crucial matter in the agenda of policy makers.

Europol’s new threat assessment, Environmental Crime in the Age of Climate Change, offers the most comprehensive intelligence study yet on this criminal phenomenon in the EU.

Law enforcement investigations across the EU show that there is an organised crime component behind most environmental crime schemes, which are often led by legal companies. Europol has also seen a significant increase in the number of cross-border cases.

Environmental crime covers a range of activities that infringe environmental legislation and cause significant damage or risk to the environment, human health or both. The main risks include the following:

• Most of the individuals involved in environmental crime are opportunistic legal business owners/operators who decide to increase their chances of profit by establishing a criminal enterprise.

• To launder the illicit proceeds, criminals mainly use the same legal businesses in which they operate (i.e. waste management businesses, retail stores, fishing companies, etc.). Document fraud, abuse of discrepancies in legislation and widespread corruption are the pillars of the environmental crime infrastructure.

• EU criminal networks are increasingly targeting Central and Eastern Europe to traffic illicit waste produced in Western Europe. Outside the EU, European traffickers mainly target South-East Asia as a destination for illicit plastic waste and end-of-life ships, and Africa for waste of electric and electronic equipment.

• The EU functions as a hub for global wildlife trafficking. It is the main destination for trafficked wildlife, but it is also a point of origin for endemic fauna trafficked to other continents.

• The waste related to the production of synthetic drugs and synthetic drug precursors is one of the main sources of environmental damage linked to organised crime in the EU.

The Europol report delves into the main typologies of environmental crime investigated in the EU, namely: waste and pollution offences; wildlife trafficking; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; forestry offences and the illegal pet trade. Special attention is given to climate change, which functions as a push and pull factor for organised crime. The growing scarcity of natural resources is likely to trigger organised crime interests in terms of profits in the immediate future.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français

Firearm-Related Violent Crime on the Rise in Canada

A study conducted by researcher Mary Allen, of the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics, shows that firearm-related violence rates have increased in recent years.

In 2020, violent crimes accounted for approximately one in five crimes brought to the attention of the police.

Firearm-related crimes typically account for less than 3% of violent crimes reported to the police in Canada. However, this type of crime has a significant emotional and physical impact on victims, families and communities.

In 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 8,344 crimes involving a firearm were reported to the police. This equates to 29 per 100,000 population, a rate similar to that of 2019. However, this was not the case in all jurisdictions, as firearm-related crime rates increased in some areas and decreased in others.

Between 2019 and 2020, there were notable increases in firearm-related violent crime rates in rural areas, such as in southern British Columbia (+34%), northern Ontario (+32%), Alberta (+32% in the North and +31% in the South), Northwest Territories (+23%) and Nova Scotia (+22%).

This study examines firearm-related crime in the two six-year periods before and after 2015, when a significant increase was recorded.

In 2020, police reported a total of 743 homicide victims in Canada, with a rate of 1.95 per 100,000 population. For 277 of these victims, a firearm was used to commit the homicide (a rate of 0.73 per 100,000 population).

After a gradual decline between the years 2009 and 2013, the rate of firearm-related homicides has increased since 2013, with only one decrease in 2018.

As a result, the proportion of homicides by firearm increased from 26% of all homicides in 2013 to 37% in 2020.

Handguns were the most popular weapon in the majority of firearm-related crimes between 2009 and 2020 (59%).

On the one hand, firearm-related crime rates were higher in rural areas than in urban centres in most provinces, and significantly higher in northern rural regions. On the other hand, firearm-related crimes generally accounted for a higher proportion of violent crime in urban areas.

Consequently, people living in some rural areas may be at greater risk of firearm crime, but crimes that occur in urban areas are more likely to involve a firearm.

In 2020, the accused charged with firearm-related offences was frequently unknown to the victim (for 55% of male victims and 41% of female victims). However, this was driven by urban firearm-related crime.


Aquest apunt en català / Esta entrada en español / Post en français