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Europol launches all-star anti-hacker ‘J-CAT' taskforce

01 Sep 2014
J-CAT team spells Gameover for cyber crime, claims Europol

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has launched a Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) pilot programme in a bid to facilitate further international anti-cyber crime operations.

The taskforce will be led by deputy director of the UK National Crime Agency's (NCA) Cyber Crime Unit Andy Archibald, and will work to centralise the efforts of numerous law enforcement agencies and companies.

The initiative already has partners from numerous countries including Austria, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Columbia, the UK and the US.

The J-CAT pilot will last six months and see the taskforce co-ordinate a variety of operations ranging from underground forum shutdowns to anti-malware initiatives similar to the recent Gameover Zeus takedown.

The Gameover Zeus takedown occurred in June when law enforcement agencies across the globe, including the NCA, launched a co-ordinated sting operation that temporarily shut down the Gameover Zeus botnet, which was estimated to have enslaved between 500,000 and one million computers at its peak.

The temporary takedown was designed to give victims a window of opportunity to purge the malware from their systems, and separate the machine from the botnet's command-and-control server.

While the operation did not completely kill Gameover Zeus, it has been credited as a key victory in law enforcement's anti-cyber crime battle and a sign of how effective cross-national co-operation can be.

Head of EC3 Troels Oerting said the taskforce would oversee similar operations in the near future. "The J-CAT will operate from secure offices in Europol's HQ, assisted by experts and analysts from the EC3. The aim is not purely strategic, but also very operational. The goal is to prevent cyber crime, to disrupt it, catch crooks and seize their illegal profits," he said.

"This is a first step in a long walk towards an open, transparent, free but also safe internet. The goal cannot be reached by law enforcement alone, but will require a consolidated effort from many stakeholders in our global village. But the J-CAT will do its part of the necessary ‘heavy-lifting' and that work started today. I am confident we will see practical tangible results very soon."

As well as overseeing operations J-CAT will also work with the private sector and set up consultation meetings between "key actors" and computer emergency response teams.

Combating cyber crime has been an ongoing goal for the UK government and its Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy launched in 2011 and has seen the government launch numerous anti-hacker initiatives.

Most recently the UK GCHQ launched the latest stage of the Cyber Security Challenge, in a bid to spot and recruit talented young people into the information security industry.

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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