ERSOU supports international action against criminals trying to beat computer anti-virus

Mon 19th, Jun

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) has supported an international investigation to crack down on cyber criminals.

The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) has supported an international investigation to crack down on cyber criminals. Arrests and searches have taken place across the UK this month, as part of a co-ordinated operation targeting people suspected of using cyber tools to get around anti-virus computer protection. At the heart of the investigation is a platform used by malware developers before they launch cyber attacks to test samples for their ability to evade popular off-the-shelf anti-virus software. Data shared with international partners by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) triggered investigations across Europe. In the UK, the National Crime Agency used the data to identify individuals who had uploaded and tested malware, and passed their details to cyber crime specialists in the Regional Organised Crime Units for action. Four arrests were carried out between Monday 5 June and Friday 9 June at addresses in the eastern region, as well as in Wales, Yorkshire and Humber and the South East. Alongside the arrests, officers conducted 31 ‘cease and desist’ visits to young people who are first time offenders, or on the fringe of offending, and may not realise the damage malware can cause. Detective Chief Inspector Martin Peters, from ERSOU’s Regional Cyber Crime Unit, said: “We are proud to have supported our valued partners at the NCA in this complex and far-reaching operation. “Cyber offences such as this are not victimless crimes – rather, many individuals and businesses can be left vulnerable to personal and financial attack by this damaging activity. “Collaborative working with other agencies and neighbouring regions is vital to the fight against cyber crime and we are committed to putting a stop to those who are actively committing such offences online.” 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. 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.” All Regional Organised Crime Units took part in this activity – Tarian (South Wales), NERSOU (North East), Titan (North West), MPCCU (London), ERSOU (Eastern), SEROCU (South East), West Midlands, (EMSOU) East Midlands), Zephyr (South West) and ODYSSEY (Yorkshire & Humber), plus PSNI and Police Scotland. Four people have been released under investigation in order for further enquiries to be undertaken.