It was only a matter of time before crime mob bosses began to embrace cybertheft.
According to a report from The Financial Times, authorities in Europe are struggling to keep up with the growing trend of organized crime rings going digital.
Europol’s Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) 2017 was released this week, revealing that cybercriminals within these organizations are turning to drones, tracking devices, social engineering, hacking and encrypted communication. This year’s SOCTA identified that there are now nearly 5,000 international crime groups located within the EU, an increase of 1,400 more than in 2013.
The growing number of crime groups, as well as their shift toward digital channels and malicious activities, poses a big challenge to Europol. Traditional organized crime is catching on to the major profits that can come from embracing technology.
Last year, the EU’s police agency found that Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre launched 131 successful cyberoperations in 2015, which is an increase from just 72 operations in 2014.
“What we see at the heart of this is a dynamic, highly enterprising underworld…in which there is a free-flowing marketplace of cybercrime tools,” Rob Wainwright, executive director of Europol, explained. “The providers of the latest malware are providing it to criminals and potentially state actors, and potentially eventually terrorists.”
Though police forces have been able to strengthen their ability to collaborate in the fight against cyber-facilitated crimes, Wainwright said more sophisticated tools have presented a huge challenge.