Against the increased criminality on the internet, the public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart, Germany is setting up a central cybercrime department. The department’s main focus will be to prosecute organized criminals on the internet.
“This is about organized crime, so the serious cases,” head of the authority, Chief Prosecutor Siegfried Mahler, said on Wednesday in Stuttgart. According to Mahler, organized crime on the internet includes weapon trafficking cases on the dark web, and where malware and Trojans are used to steal data and spy on victims. According to the annual report of the public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart, these crimes are mostly committed for the sole purpose of gaining profits.
Stuttgart law enforcement authorities are responsible for large-scale procedures in the economic sector. In serious cases, jurisdiction does not end in the Stuttgart area but also applies to the state of Württemberg. This includes, for example, cybercriminals with an extremist background. The study showed that the number of economic traffickers increased by more than 20 percent (5,426 cases) in 2016 compared to the previous year. Mahler claims the rise is due to internet crime. He brought some examples of minor cases, such as fraud attempts on e-commerce websites, such as eBay.
According to the project, the new cybercrime department will consist of four to five prosecutors and will be launched in the upcoming few weeks. New employees were hired, however, the authorities still complained about the shortage of workers. According to Mahler, about 30 prosecutors are still missing in Stuttgart. The Southwest FDP (Free Democratic Party) welcomed the new central department against cybercrime.
“It is incomprehensible why the state government is no longer responsible for the protection against cyber attacks,” said the political party’s spokesman, Nico Weinmann, and digital expert Timm Kern in a joint interview. “The police lack specialists. In addition, cooperation between business and authorities must be intensified on both sides. ”
According to the report, cybercrime includes not only economically motivated crimes but also cases with a terrorist background – such as arms trafficking in the dark web. The researchers described the dark side of the internet, as an anonymous area of the web, which is mainly used by cybercriminals. A special unit against terrorist organizations and foreign extremist groups had already been formed in 2016. According to the report, 290 proceedings were launched last year in cases of Islamism and alien extremism. In the first quarter of this year, this number was already 110.
The report showed, that in 2016, the prosecution authority totaled 112,181 proceedings from all areas, considering a drop of around two percent. In 2015, this number was particularly high since most of the ongoing trials were related to the violation of the residence law.
According to the German news outlet handelsblatt.com, Germany has to step up its game to fight cybercrime on the internet. Hubertus Porschen, the writer of the article, there are major issues with ensuring safety due to the political establishment on the administrative level.
“The federal government, in its role as chair of the G20 in 2017, is on the right path with its thematic focus on both the advantages and potential risks of digitization”, Porschen wrote.
According to the writer, local law enforcement authorities should be more technically trained and equipped to repel the attacks of the cybercriminals. However, since this is not the case in the country, cyber police can’t be relied upon, Porschen claims. Since most of the cyber attacks are conducted by criminals from abroad countries, the writer urges an international cooperation between law enforcement authorities.
The writer recommended the German government to remove Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security from under the jurisdiction of the interior ministry and instead to be overseen by the chancellery. This way, according to him, the institution can operate more independently and become a reliable point of contact for citizens and companies who are looking to improve their defense against the attacks of cybercriminals. Porschen also recommended some changes in the attitude of the federal government, he urged officials to think both macroeconomically and cross-institutionally to be more efficient against cybercriminals.