AFP stalls in India as crime embraces offshoring

Despite missing its target to set up a base in India to target ID theft and information crime, the AFP says it's still planning to open its offshore centre.

Despite missing its target to set up a base in India to target ID theft and information crime, the AFP says it's still planning to open its offshore centre.

The decision to open a permanent centre of operations in India was originally announced by AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty in March 2007.

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty

At the time, Keelty told the Chamber of Commerce that organised criminals -- including cybercriminals -- were mimicking legitimate business processes and offshoring certain activities to a variety of locations. He likened a server's worth of data to a kilogram of heroin in terms of dollar value, and said that the AFP's Indian headquarters would serve as a response to the emerging problem in the region.

An AFP spokesperson told ZDNet Australia today that the agency will still be going ahead with its plans and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is continuing negotiations with the Indian government.

What this is really about is providing training and assistance for local forces

James Turner, IBRS

DFAT declined to comment on the state of negotiations when contacted by ZDNet Australia today.

While there are some concerns that the centre has not begun operating on schedule, James Turner, security analyst at research firm IBRS, believes that its establishment has more to do with fostering regional cooperation in fighting cybercrime than it does with having an investigative presence on the subcontinent.

"What this is really about is providing training and assistance for local forces and better protection for Australian data overseas," he said.

Turner claims that the establishment of the centre will coincide with proposals about to go before the Attorney General. The proposals will allow Australian victims of overseas data breaches to take action against the local companies which shipped their data overseas, where it was subsequently compromised.

Andrew Walls, research director at analyst firm Gartner, said that a lot of security personnel are too focused on the technology protections involved in offshoring when the shop floor level is equally at risk, particularly in countries such as India.

"There are a variety of groups in India that have perpetrated a number of identity theft schemes, but the point is that these are not necessarily high-tech crimes. What we've seen is mostly simple cases of inside abuse that can be put down to things like a lack of reliable supervision, we're not talking about hacks here," he said.

Walls said that the AFP's intentions are still valid despite the delay, and that it is essential the Australian agency shares its expertise in the region.

The analysts' comments today come after reports earlier this month that the national law enforcement body was already overstretched due to foreign deployments.

CEO of the Australian Federal Police Association, Jim Toor, said they had created a "vacuum" in the force which had to be filled by officers who in some cases lacked technical expertise, particularly in the area of cybercrime.

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