Private sector, police tie up to fight cyber criminals

Second Minister for Home Affairs Desmond Lee (centre) playing the drums with Interpol secretary- general Jurgen Stock (left) and Interpol president Meng Hongwei at the opening of Interpol World 2017 yesterday.
Second Minister for Home Affairs Desmond Lee (centre) playing the drums with Interpol secretary- general Jurgen Stock (left) and Interpol president Meng Hongwei at the opening of Interpol World 2017 yesterday.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Alliance members include banks and IT firms; collaboration a big theme at Interpol conference

A partnership between the private sector and the Singapore Police Cybercrime Command has enabled the authorities to quickly freeze bank accounts involved in cybercrime and prevent overseas fund transfers and losses for victims, said Second Minister for Home Affairs Desmond Lee.

The alliance has 40 partners, including global information technology companies, e-commerce platforms, telecommunications service providers and banks, said Mr Lee yesterday at the launch of Interpol World 2017, a conference and exhibition bringing together stakeholders such as law enforcement, academia and security professionals.

The Alliance of Public-Private Cybercrime Stakeholders, which was rolled out in February but announced for the first time yesterday, has enabled banks like DBS and OCBC to strengthen communication and relationships with the authorities and allowed the sharing of information, said members of the alliance.

Said Mr Patrick Chew, head of operational risk management at OCBC Bank: "One of the biggest challenges that organisations face is the speed with which cyber criminals find new ways to strike.

"Having a structured platform to share intelligence accelerates the pace at which the private and public sectors can take preventive or even collective action against these attacks."

Interpol president Meng Hongwei also emphasised the need for partnerships to tackle cyber and transnational crimes.

He said: "We wish to stay one step ahead of criminals by enhancing the capabilities of all stakeholders to confront increasingly ingenious and sophisticated challenges."

The collaboration between industry and law enforcement was a recurring theme at the conference, and Interpol secretary-general Jurgen Stock said it was vital in today's complex international security environment. "We can no longer work in isolation. Building bridges to other worlds has become a modern necessity which Interpol has recognised."

Giving an example, he cited Microsoft's partnership with Interpol to integrate its photo DNA technology into Interpol's International Child Sexual Exploitation Database. The technology creates unique signatures for photos that allow the authorities to identify and match child abuse victims worldwide.

However, challenges still remain as criminals move quickly with developments in innovation and technology, and there are obstacles to mutual trust between sectors, like a perceived lack of reciprocity, said Dr Stock.

"Interpol's approach to these challenges is, simply put, to embrace them. We must analyse them, address them and turn them into the next generation of security solutions for our respective governments, markets and citizens."

Mr Lee also gave an update on Singapore's National Cybercrime Action Plan (NCAP), launched in July last year.

"Our increasingly global world, connected by technology and powered by cross-border networks, offers new economic and other opportunities, but at the same time presents new security risks," he said.

Under the NCAP, the Singapore police partnered Europol in its No More Ransom project to help ransomware victims retrieve their encrypted data without paying any ransom, and educate the public on how to better protect themselves.

Last month, amendments to the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act gave Singapore extraterritorial jurisdiction over offences that cause or create significant risk of serious harm here.

Mr Lee also said the Ministry of Home Affairs had recently set up a Special Interest Group for Cybercrime Investigation, in collaboration with the Singapore Cybersecurity Consortium, that would leverage talents and innovation in academia and the industry to fight cybercrime.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Private sector, police tie up to fight cyber criminals'. Print Edition | Subscribe