During the COVID-19 crisis, the European EL PAcCTO project: AMERIPOL offers video conferences on important topics for the police and individuals to support the region
n times of crisis, insecurity and chaos, cybercriminals take advantage of vulnerabilities to proliferate a wide variety of hoaxes and frauds with the aim of misinforming, deceiving and infecting the population with different objectives.
At a time when the population is in confinement to stop the spread of COVID-19, cybercriminals are using new technologies, in both the private and professional spheres, unleashing an epidemic of cyber attacks (phishing and malware).
The EL PAcCTO project:Support for AMERIPOL, financed by the European Union and managed by the FIIAPP, wants to support the region during this situation and is holding video conferences through the Executive Secretariat and the Ameripol National Units (ANU) to teach and encourage best practices, and lessons learned from the European Union. On this occasion, it organised a video conference on misinformation and cybercrime.
The video conference was introduced by Ambassador Ignacio Ybáñez, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Brazil and Adriano Barbosa, Federal Police Commissioner, Brazilian Attaché for AMERIPOL in Bogotá, representing Mauricio Valeixo, Director of the Brazilian Federal Police, who attended the video conference but experienced some connection problems.
A number of institutions also participated. Specialists from the Spanish Policía Nacional from the General Information Office talked about the importance of controlling fake news and the importance of the darknet, while members of the Technological Research Unit (ITU) of the Office of the Superintendent of the Criminal Investigation Department focused on preventive measures and cyber-patrols through the network.
Representatives from the EUROPOL cybercrime centre, the European External Action Service and an intelligence company based on the application of artificial intelligence, CEO of Alto Analytics, also participated.
Among the information discussed at the video conference was the fact that there are currently 130,567 registered web domains related to COVID-19 on the surface web (traditional internet), an increase from 12,000 to 130,000 since March 25. Heavy demand for certain protective equipment and cleaning materials is leading to scams and the sale of counterfeit and low-quality products.
There has also been an increase in the sexual exploitation of children during the confinement period, with growing traffic of pornographic images of minors, and conversations are being detected in forums that explain how to obtain the photos of children.
More than 800 participants, including 82 police units, attended the video conference. Regarding the success of the call, the project chief and chief police inspector, Marcos Alvar, said that “during this global crisis when all countries are vulnerable, international cooperation and solidarity must be up to the task”.
The video conference showed how to detect misinformation campaigns aimed at social and political destabilisation, as well as anticipating new forms of cybercrime, such as attacks on essential infrastructures (ministries of health, logistics infrastructures, banking) and scams perpetrated by individuals who are using COVID-19 to reel people in, deceive them and steal their personal and banking information.