Disrupting Potential of Cybercrime in Romania
A Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey released in 2020 shows that 47% of all respondents experienced an average of six incidents of fraud in the last 24 months. The top types of fraud are: customer fraud, cybercrime, asset misappropriation, or bribery and corruption.
In Romania, cybercrime remains a major challenge for law enforcement and represents one of the most prominent social threats as it has the potential to disrupt critical infrastructures. While the most prevalent cybercrime offences are: phishing, credit card fraud, fraudulent online bids, and hacking, cybercrime can threaten natural persons, companies, financial market or national security.
Romania has come a long way from the year 2000 when cybercrime was rampant mostly due to lack of legislation and specialised police investigative units. The most effective measures taken by law enforcement and various organisations to disrupt cybercrime in Romania are (see Figure 1):
Collaborating with different law enforcement agencies from all over the world
In 2006 a specialised taskforce was created named FBI-D.C.C.O – this task force is a collaboration of FBI agents and Romanian police that has brought to justice famous Romanian hackers and cybercrime groups.
Constant collaboration with various police forces like INTERPOL and intelligence agencies.
Since 2014 Romania leads a NATO cybercrime defence unit whose purpose is to counter cyberattacks from nation states and prevent what happened in Ukraine, which can have major economic consequences.
Creating highly specialised units for cybercrime
Both the Romanian Police and the Romanian Intelligence Service have specialised units to combat and disrupt cybercrime. The Romanian Police tackles everyday cybercrime activity, whereas the Romanian Intelligence Service has a broader approach that refers to cybercrime as a threat to national security.
Creating a national cyber security and incident response team
Romania has created its own Computer Emergency Response Team (cert.ro) that advises the public with regards to cybercrime. Cert.ro publishes alerts about current attacks and how to stop them and very useful annual reports regarding cybercrime, malware, cyber-attacks etc.
Changing the penal code to include cybercrime related activities
The Romanian penal code was amended to include cybercrime related offences. Romania, as part of EU has to implement national regulations in tone with EU directives such as the NIS directive.
Extraditing hackers to face their charges
Romania has extradited hackers mostly to the US to face charges. In the US the sentences are more severe so this serves as a deterrent for many wannabe criminals.
Maintaining various websites to inform and educate the public on matters of cybercrime and various technology aspects
Information on cybercrime: https://www.criminalitatea-informatica.ro/
Information on security: https://www.securitatea-informatiilor.ro/
Information on cybernetic security: https://www.securitatea-cibernetica.ro/
Information on network security: https://www.securitatea-retelelor.ro/
Launching initiatives to get the young into the cyber security field
EUROPOL and Romanian police have various initiatives that help the young become security experts instead of criminals.
Supporting specialised computer programs and competitions in high-schools
The ministry of education and EU commissioned different programs aiming at teaching young students technology and helping them get jobs in the technology workforce.
2020 brings Romania on the spotlight as Bucharest has been chosen to host the new EU research centre for cybersecurity, which aims to boost the fight against private and state-sponsored hackers. The existence of this centre will attract cybersecurity professionals and researchers which will help strengthen an EU cybersecurity posture and develop an EU cybersecurity ecosystem.
The Romanian police with the help of their collaborators in different institutions have had some success in dismantling high profile cybercrime gangs or hackers like:
Five organised crime groups were dismantled in Valcea that allegedly stole 3 million euros from more than 500 people.
Romanian and Italian police dismantled a criminal gang that stole over 1 million euros from European Banks
The “Gucciffer case” – a Romanian taxi driver that hacked the email of Collin Powell former US Secretary of State and President George W Bush
“Valley of the Kings” case where approximately 250 people were involved in faking eBay auctions. The perpetrators allegedly stole 750,000 euros
123 Washington Police Department outdoor surveillance (before the inauguration of President Trump) hack perpetrated by two Romanian hackers that were extradited to the US.
Romanian police in cooperation with EUROPOL broke up a Ukrainian and Russian cybercrime group that allegedly stole more than 1 billion euros from bank accounts over a period of 5 years.
Cybercriminality is rising all over the world, so it’s a widespread phenomena not specific to Romania only. The real magnitude of cybercrime is hard to quantify because people and companies tend not to report it or even worse pay attackers to get their data back (in case of ransomware). In this context, the initiatives of Romanian Law enforcement to deter cybercriminality had some success, but still to this day Romania, the 5th nation in regards to internet speed in the world, remains one of the largest hub for cybercrime in Eastern Europe.
Our project, CC-DRIVER, investigates the human and technical drivers of cybercrime, and aims to draw a clearer picture of the whole cybercrime ecosystem in EU countries such as Romania. Our research findings will be translated into a wide range of innovative tools, including cybercrime awareness and investigation tools for law enforcement agencies to strengthen public security and cyber resilience in the European Union. Contact us for more information on the project and further updates, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.