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Police striving to keep pace with cybercriminals

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Bermuda Police Service is fighting a constant battle trying to keep pace with cybercriminals who have been increasingly active during the pandemic.

Superintendent Nicholas Pedro, officer in charge of the Serious Crime Division, told business owners of the ongoing challenge at a BPS cybercrime seminar at the Police Recreational Club today.

“Our continuous challenge is to get and maintain the necessary skill-sets, as the police are, sadly, usually behind criminals who identify and implement new ways to commit crime,” Mr Pedro said.

“Whether it is analysts, digital forensic capability, or keeping our investigators trained and ready to address the most complex challenges, we are continually trying to evolve to keep pace with new developments. This is important for Bermuda and Bermudians.”

Mr Pedro was joined on the panel by members of the Criminal Investigations Department, Digital Forensics Unit and Financial Investigation Unit.

Evidence from around the world suggest cybercriminal activity has spiked during the pandemic, helped by a large numbers of people working remotely and increase in the volume of e-commerce.

In a report published last month, internet security experts RiskIQ estimated that cyberattacks will cost organisations around the world $11.4 million per minute in 2021, double the amount calculated for 2015.

Tactics covered in the RiskIQ's 2020 Evil Internet Minute survey range from phishing to domain infringement to supply chain attacks that target e-commerce. The motives of cybercriminals include monetary gain, large-scale reputational damage, political motivations, and espionage.

Mr Pedro said Bermuda was an international finance centre of high repute which had secured an excellent rating of its regime to combat money laundering and terrorism financing in its 2019 assessment by Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. Now the island faced new types of risk and the police were dealing with a higher level of sophistication in cybercrime, he added.

Mr Pedro said: “As we move into new economic opportunities with the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, risk factors arise with the risk of money laundering, reputational risk and the potential for lower credit ratings if we do not maintain our capability to investigate allegations where these systems are being abused to further criminality.”

Police investigated “the most minor of matters right up to and including the major cross-border money-laundering enterprises, which use the most sophisticated methods to attempt to conceal their tracks”, he added.

Mr Pedro said: “Our financial investigators are tasked with following the money. That means identifying laundered proceeds and seizing assets obtained from criminal conduct. This involves countless hours of investigation and analysis and quite often voluminous sets of data.

“We've invested in a small, strong team of digital forensic investigators, who possess the skills necessary to deal with most levels of digital crime, and we also have access to our partners at the UK National Crime Agency, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and also the Department of Homeland Security, to name just a few.”

He added that the investigators received regular training to keep pace with latest developments.

“We are challenged from a budgetary perspective,” Mr Pedro said. “That's no surprise, you'll have seen that in the media and we continue to work with the Government to identify the posts and training that we must retain in order to keep compliant with international standards.”

Cybercrime threat: Nick Pedro, officer in charge of the Serious Crime Division (Photograph by Jonathan Kent)
Cybercrime in focus: Sergeant Mark Tomlinson, left, of the Digital Forensics Unit speaks at the Bermuda Police Service cybercrime seminar (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 04, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated September 04, 2020 at 9:53 am)

Police striving to keep pace with cybercriminals

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