West Yorkshire Police

For non-emergencies dial 101 - In an emergency always dial 999

Action Against Criminals Trying To Beat Computer Anti-Virus

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Arrests and searches have taken place across the UK in a coordinated international law enforcement operation targeting people suspected of using cyber tools to get around anti-virus computer protection. 

At the heart of the investigation is a platform used by malware developers before they launch cyber attacks to test samples for their ability to evade popular off the shelf anti-virus software. 

Data shared with international partners by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) triggered investigations across Europe. 

In the UK, the NCA used the data to identify individuals who had uploaded and tested malware, and passed their details to cyber crime specialists in the Regional Organised Crime Units for action. 

Four arrests were carried out between 5 and 9 June 2017 at addresses in Wales, Yorkshire and Humber, South Eastern and Eastern Regions.  

Alongside the arrests, officers conducted 31 ‘cease and desist’ visits to young people who are first time offenders, or on the fringes of offending, and may not realise the damage malware can cause. 

Senior investigating officer David Cox, from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said:  

"Regional Organised Crime Units across the UK have taken swift effective action against those who attempt to use malicious software, and have also played a vital part in deterring young offenders from committing cyber crimes in the future. 

"I think a lot of people who put anti-virus protection on their computers would be astonished that there is a whole industry dedicated to trying to get around that protection. It’s why keeping antivirus software up to date is so important.  

"Malware that has been tested through Counter Anti-Virus platforms poses a significant criminal threat to the UK, as demonstrated by the recent WannaCry attack. Law enforcement is working collaboratively and proactively to prevent and mitigate further attacks. Denying criminals the ability to test their malware before deploying it can severely disrupt their success and their profit margins. 

"The response to this kind of threat is a global one, and the NCA is part of an international network which attacks not only the cyber criminals themselves but the services they provide for each other." 

All ROCUs took part in this activity – Tarian (South Wales), NERSOU (North East), Titan (North West), MPCCU (London), ERSOU (Eastern), SEROCU (South East), West Midlands, (EMSOU) East Midlands, Zephyr (South West) and ODYSSEY (Yorkshire & Humber), plus PSNI and Police Scotland. 

Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith, of West Yorkshire's Cyber Crime Unit and the Regional Cyber Crime Unit, said:

"The Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Cyber Crime Team have been working with the NCA and the four local forces and partners to conduct a series of cease and desist visits, which have led to valuable community intelligence being obtained. Individuals have been referred into partnerships to deter and prevent offending. 

"We would urge all users to ensure that when downloading anti virus or any other software they obtain it from a reputable supplier to minimise the risk of the software being compromised. 

"We would still advocate people using up-to-date antivirus software and updating relevant software this will in itself minimise the risk of being a victim of cyber crime. 

"Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Cyber Crime Team are committed to sharing good practice across business and the general public and have committed to facilitating seminars throughout the year, addressing threat risk and harm concerning the most significant cyber threats. 

"There is a seminar at the Leeds Bridge Church Conference Centre on 27 June. For more information visit here."

For non-emergencies dial 101
In an emergency always dial 999


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