Justice Pursues Collaboration to Fight Cyber Crime with EU Member States

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Under an executive order on the responsible development of digital assets, the department recently recommended the U.S. deepen its investment in international organizations to counter ransomware and other illicit activity.

The Justice Department touted its organization of a workshop with the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation—or Eurojust—to partner in the struggle to deter perpetrators of ransomware, while pushing for more resources to help other nations prosecute those leveraging cryptocurrencies to mask their illicit activity.

“Only by working together with key law enforcement and prosecutorial partners in the EU can we effectively combat the threat that ransomware poses to our society,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said in a press release on the two-day event Thursday. “I am confident that the U.S.-EU ransomware workshop will spur greater coordination and collaboration to address the ransomware threat.”

More than 100 prosecutors and representatives from law enforcement, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations from 27 countries participated in the workshop co-led by Eurojust, according to the release.

Starting on Wednesday, officials from U.S. law enforcement agencies—Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations, along with those from Eurojust and Europol—shared lessons learned about adversaries’ tactics and their latest techniques for tracing and catching them. 

The Justice Department has had some high-profile success tracking ransomware perpetrators, using the blockchain technology that undergirds cryptocurrencies, which have been the preferred form of ransom payments criminals demand to help preserve their anonymity.

In a June 6 report from the attorney general—in collaboration with the departments of State, Treasury and others—under executive order, officials stressed the importance of increasing international collaboration, not just through training, but by building the capacity of other governments and enforcing anti-money laundering laws for virtual currencies.

“U.S. law enforcement abilities would be significantly improved by expanding its overseas operational capacity (as opposed to training) to combat malicious criminal threats, particularly related to cybercrime and the illicit misuse of digital assets,” the report reads. “Efforts to enhance the United States’ ability to detect, investigate, prosecute and otherwise disrupt the illicit use of digital assets would be more effective if funds for international capacity building were allocated to international law enforcement partners, including those that the Department of Justice, as the lead domestic law enforcement agency, has identified based on specific operational needs.”