22 September 2012Police officials agree co-operation, as well as training, is needed to adequately address computer-conducted crime, which increasingly affects citizens' property and safety.
Cyber criminals are often felony offenders capable of operating locally as well as internationally, said Gojko Vasic, general director of police in Republika Srpska in BiH.
Vasic noted a recent internet fraud case that his department participated in included police from more than 100 countries. "Our police now pay full attention to collaboration with colleagues from neighboring countries," Vasic told SETimes.
While some co-operation already exists, police officials have repeatedly called for more, given that cyber criminals co-operate regionally and have a growing means to defraud others.
Regional ministers of internal affairs met in Sarajevo last month to discuss new developments, as well as ways to increase collaboration. They concluded that without joining forces, there's no effective way to combat cybercrime.
"The current co-operation is reflected in the data and information exchange and joint training. We have collaborated with each law enforcement agency in the region and co-operation is very good," Vladimir Urosevic, the chief of the electronic crime department in the Serbian police, told SETimes.
Police officials explained the most common offenses are unauthorised entry in, and damage of, computer systems and networks; theft by using false bank or credit cards and online forgery.
Montenegrin police arrested a 10-member group in mid-August for stealing 1 million euros by hacking foreign bank accounts.
But computer-conducted crimes are wide-ranging. In some countries, child or minor abuse via the Internet is becoming more common.
"Cybercrime is an extremely complex issue. Today, we have kids in their 20s who literally know [and can do] everything on a computer," Vasic said.
"Computer crime usually includes employee fraud, minor and child pornography; fraud; using of mobile telephones and smartphones as tools to commit other crime; identity theft and credit card fraud," Sasa Aksentijevic, an IT and telecommunications court expert in Rijeka, Croatia, told SETimes.
The growing opportunities have also attracted foreign cyber criminals to the region.
Last month, Croatian police arrested Sergey Litvinenko, a well-known cybercriminal who was sought by the US for computer fraud in the amount of $20 million (15.4 million euros).
"The Macedonian police arrested several members of international cybercrime groups in the joint actions in the past few years," Dimce Gastarski, spokesperson for the Macedonian police, told SETimes.
Serbian authorities uncovered 59 criminal offenses concerning computer data security, while the Macedonian police arrested 50 people in the past year and a half for cybercrime.
Gastarski emphasised that training existing and potential police officers is the most important factor in deterring cybercrime.
"That is why the Macedonian police have invested significant funds to train its personnel," Gestarski said.
Experts said training helps not only to discover cybercrime, but also to properly prosecute a case. For example, police timing is important when seizing relevant logs before their retention expires in the process of proving criminal offenses in court.
"Important data must be distinguished from irrelevant one ... in order to enable decision makers [such as courts] to reach a decision," Aksentijevic said.