Europol hosts joint meeting of EC3 Advisory Groups in bid to combat phishing threat

On 26-27 March, Europol hosted a joint meeting of the EC3 Advisory Groups on Financial Services, Internet Security and Communication Providers, gathering 70 industry representatives to discuss the cyber threat of phishing.

Over the course of the two days, global financial institutions, Internet security companies and telecommunications providers shared valuable insights into how phishing affects their respective industries and what can be done together with law enforcement to combat this type of cyber crime.

The Joint Advisory Group meeting featured keynotes on phishing and machine learning and on business e-mail compromise, as well as group discussions on potential solutions to this problem. Focusing on technical, operational and awareness-related solutions to mitigate phishing, law enforcement and industry experts came up with a number of recommendations and conclusions on what can be done collectively:

*improve information sharing across industries, as well as with law enforcement and other relevant public sector organisations

*implement the basics: secure authentication, domain blacklisting and blocking of common exploits

*train and educate users on a permanent basis and not as a one-time effort

*embrace innovation such as machine learning to automatically detect phishing e-mails

*regularly review anti-phishing measures to keep up-to-date with ever-evolving criminal MOs

On the basis of these conclusions, further guidance and recommendations will be published later this year outlining the problem of phishing and possible mitigation measures from a law enforcement-centric perspective.

Enabler of cyber crime

Steven Wilson, head of the European Cyber Crime Centre, said: “Phishing is the engine and enabler of many cyber crimes and can be used to cause significant harm to European citizens and their organisations. Only by working closely and across key industries with some of the leading experts in their field can we ensure that we’re able to counter this threat and keep the EU safe.”

Drew Bagley, vice-president at Crowdstrike, added: “Phishing is a persistent threat to data protection used by everyone from entry-level criminals through to sophisticated nation-state adversaries. This Europol cross-industry forum is a one-of-a-kind gathering of Advisory Groups from Internet security, banking and infrastructure to enhance awareness and share cyber security Best Practice.”

Bruce Nikkel, director of cyber crime intelligence and forensic investigation at UBS (and chairman of the European FI-ISAC) concluded: “Europol is a leader in leveraging private sector engagement to help fight cyber crime. This is demonstrated in the great success of EC3’s Advisory Groups which facilitate the sharing of new criminal trends observed by industry. Public-private partnerships like this ultimately improve the safety and security of our society.”

EC3 established the Advisory Groups on Financial Services, Internet Security and Communication Providers to foster trust and co-operation between key private sector industries and law enforcement in their joint fight against cyber crime. They meet separately three times a year at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague to share strategic information related to cyber crime threats and outline trends in their respective business areas, as well as agree on joint initiatives alongside law enforcement.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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