Frontiers in Digital Crime Fighting

Frontiers in Digital Crime Fighting

Noboru Nakatani, executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, shares his views on emerging cyber threats

FORUM Staff

Noboru Nakatani is on the leading edge of fighting cyber crime in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and worldwide.

He’s the executive director of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), which opened in 2015 in Singapore. The state-of-the-art facility includes a cyber crime center with a digital forensics laboratory that equips the world’s police with the tools and knowledge to better tackle the digital crimes of the 21st century.

The IGCI provides high-tech assistance to law enforcement agencies from Interpol’s 190 member countries. It is also a research and development center that provides innovative training for digital investigators across the globe. In addition to teaming with law enforcement agencies, the IGCI has partnered with private-sector entities such as Kaspersky Lab, Trend Micro, and Japan’s Cyber Defense Institute.

Before he was named the head of IGCI, Nakatani was a special advisor to the commissioner general of Japan’s National Police Agency and director of its Transnational Organized Crime Office. He also held the post of director of Information Systems and Technology at Interpol’s General Secretariat headquarters, overseeing the development of innovative IT services for the global law enforcement community.

Nakatani spoke to FORUM about the nature of emerging cyber threats.

Is the Indo-Asia-Pacific region particularly vulnerable to cyber crime? If so, are there any particular reasons why?

Cyber crime in the Asia-Pacific region accounts for a significant proportion of global cyber crime, yet the diversity between countries can be significant. The growing amount of people connected to the Internet means that cyber crime in the Asia-Pacific region is likely to continue to increase.

Capabilities to address cyber crime need to be assessed in light of a crime situation. Some countries have started to suffer from specific types of cyber crimes, while others have not yet. As cyber crime is a global problem and all regions and nations are vulnerable to it, countries should be equipped to address cyber threats and develop cyber capabilities.

Interdependence is a defining characteristic of the digital world, meaning we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Why is international collaboration important in addressing the issue of cyber crime?

International collaboration is perhaps the single most important requirement for better cyber security, as criminality is evolving from the physical to the cybersphere. When it comes to cyber crime, the list of challenges facing communities and governments is daunting. Traditional methods are no longer adequate to combat the transnational nature of cyber crime, which now requires stronger international collaboration. There are very few crimes which do not rely in some way on the use of the Internet — for example to move money, for communication between criminals or for access to victims.

Police worldwide must collaborate with each other to effectively counter the threats of cyber crime, but they must also work with other actors from private industry to share knowledge and expertise. There are many benefits that law enforcement agencies can tap on from global partnerships and from a multistakeholder approach, together with the private sector and academia.

An interior view of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation’s cyber fusion center is on display during the building’s opening ceremony in Singapore in April 2015. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

An interior view of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation’s cyber fusion center is on display during the building’s opening ceremony in Singapore in April 2015. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Has an increasing reliance on the Internet also created unexpected vulnerabilities?

The Internet has created a borderless society, providing unprecedented opportunities to generate wealth and stimulate economies. An increasing reliance on the Internet has also created unexpected vulnerabilities, with organized crime groups operating across the world able to coordinate complex attacks in a matter of minutes and with the click of a button.

The Internet has become a huge part of daily life for citizens around the world, be it for emails, social networking, financial transactions, filing tax returns and so on. Individuals and companies share more and more data with devices connected to the Internet. It is those data that can be analyzed, used and sold at very fast speeds. This mobility of data carries a risk because criminals look at it as a means of making profit.

More importantly, when governments become targets of cyber crime, consequences extend beyond just monetary losses: a major Internet disruption can also put our power grids, banking systems, energy pipelines and other critical systems at risk.

The Internet also provides terrorists with unprecedented situational awareness and tactical advantage over both the police and the government.

The cyber realm has a great destructive potential that makes us more vulnerable than ever before.

Is there a wide diversity between countries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region regarding their capability to fight cyber crime?

We can observe a wide diversity in countries’ capability to deal with cyber threats in every region. The existence of intraregional differences is not a characteristic unique to the Asia-Pacific region. This is why the baseline capability to address cyber crime needs to be enhanced globally.

This highlights the importance of international collaboration in addressing the issue of cyber crime, especially given the current pace of technological change.

Devices to simulate cyber crime are exhibited at the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation during its opening ceremony in Singapore in April 2015. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Devices to simulate cyber crime are exhibited at the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation during its opening ceremony in Singapore in April 2015. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

What is the role of the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in addressing cyber crime?

It was under Interpol’s vision of connecting police for a safer world that the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore was created to address the unprecedented challenges facing law enforcement in a digital age.

Interpol strives to assist its member countries in the fight against cyber crime in the framework of the IGCI, based on a multistakeholder approach. In this context, Interpol has the unique capability — at IGCI — to provide a global, neutral and secure platform for international law enforcement, private sector and academia to share information and work together against cyber crime in a collaborative environment.

IGCI’s added value to our member countries is threefold. We provide law enforcement agencies worldwide with a global platform for operational support, global analysis for research-led innovation, and a center of excellence for capacity building and training.

Interpol stands ready to support its membership, paving the way for police to address 21st century crime threats.

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