Why It Matters

Joining hands to fight cybercrime

Technological advancements have benefited society, but on the flip side, they have also allowed cyber criminals to evolve, exploiting the convenience, mobility and anonymity of online platforms. Just last year, cybercrime cost the global economy over US$450 billion (S$620 billion), and this number is expected to grow, with estimates that it will hit US$3 trillion by 2020.

At Interpol World 2017 this week, top security experts repeatedly highlighted the need for law enforcement and private sector to collaborate in the fight against cybercrime. This comes against the backdrop of the global proliferation of online attacks, most recently the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks, which affected thousands of individuals and organisations worldwide, including some here.

As criminals become more advanced, so must the good guys. The sharing of information and research and development can be mutually beneficial for law enforcement and organisations to stay ahead of the game. Interpol president Meng Hongwei said during the conference: "No single country or profession can rely solely upon its own capability to address the problem of transnational and organised crimes."

One form of collaboration can be seen in the Alliance of Public-Private Cybercrime Stakeholders here. The partnership between police and members, like banks, has enabled the authorities to quickly freeze bank accounts involved in cybercrime and prevent overseas fund transfers. This is made possible through sharing of information between alliance members and the police.

However, said Interpol's secretary-general Jurgen Stock, there are challenges standing in the way of building mutual trust between sectors, including the need for protection of clients' privacy and the perceived lack of reciprocity in data sharing.

To tackle the threat, industry players must see the value in cooperation and mutual openness, which will give the good guys a significant competitive advantage against cyber criminals.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Joining hands to fight cybercrime'. Print Edition | Subscribe