AFP to embark on international placements in cybercrime fight

The Australian Federal Police is about to embark on a number of strategic placements within international crime-fighting agencies, in a bid to take its fight against cybercrime offshore, according to its head of Cyber Crime Operations Glen McEwan.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is embarking on strategic placements within Interpol, Europol, and Pittsburgh's National Centre of Cyber Training Alliance, in a bid to take its fight against cybercrime overseas, according to the agency's manager of Cyber Crime Operations, High Tech Crime Operations, commander Glen McEwan.

McEwan, who took part in a data security discussion panel at the Check Point Experience conference in Melbourne today, said that the move follows Australia's agreement to share certain information with international crime-fighting agencies to crack down on cybercriminals.

"From a policy point of view, the Australian government has ceded to various international conventions that allow us to more freely exchange information around cyber," said McEwan. "The AFP, representing Australian law enforcement, are about to embark on strategic placements within Interpol, Europol, and also the National Centre of Cyber Training alliance in Pittsburgh."

From McEwan's perspective, Australian law enforcement can do its job far more effectively when it collaborates closely with international agencies than it can if it operates only from within Australia's borders.

"I think for Australian law enforcement in this sphere is actually taking fight offshore, where we work very closely with our international law-enforcement partners," said McEwan. "Some do have far greater capability through jurisdiction or judicial focus than we do here in Australia; Romania is a fantastic example of that."

In 2012, the AFP, working closely with overseas authorities, shut down a Romanian crime ring whose targets included more than 500,000 Australian credit card accounts through POS systems vulnerabilities.

"We took the fight offshore and worked very closely with the Romanians, and that's when we found that the Romanians have their own cyber prosecutor, and that they had very established understanding within this environment," said McEwan. "It resulted in seven persons being arrested, and it shows that it does work."

McEwan's comments come as new Check Point Software research indicates that up to 90 percent of Australian and New Zealand organisations experience data loss events.

The Israel-headquartered data security company's 2014 Security Report found that, on average, 29 data loss events occur in Australia and New Zealand every day.

The research also found that 51 percent of organisations experienced credit card data loss events, with 75 of those businesses residing in the finance industry, and 34 percent of companies experienced data loss relating to business data records.

The study revealed that Australia and New Zealand host 19 percent of the world's malicious files, with Australia claiming the second-highest figure for hosting malicious files after the United States.