Cybercrime slightly decreased |

Cybercrime is crime where information and communication technology (ICT) is both the means and the goal. For example, hacking, committing DDoS attacks or installing ransomware. This is malicious software that criminals use to hold files or computers hostage and then demand money from the user to unblock them. Cybercrime must not be confused with digitized crime. In addition, criminals use a computer or phone to commit crimes, such as friend-in-need fraud or bank help desk fraud. Digital crime fell by around twenty thousand reports last year.

‘Thanks to the targeted information, fewer and fewer fall for it, it seems,’ replies Theo van der Plas, program director for Digitization and Cybercrime in the police. “Our investigations are also responsible for that. And the prosecution demands harsh sentences, which the judge also imposes. But digital crime is and will unfortunately be a topical issue.’

The decrease in the number of reviews must therefore be seen in the right perspective. “It is an encouraging development, but the police figures are still alarmingly high. And they don’t tell the whole story’, explains Van der Plas. “More and more companies, but also municipalities and public institutions are falling victim to ransomware. Enormous sums are demanded. And sometimes also paid, although we as police advise against this. We cannot immediately see this worrying trend reflected in the figures, because unfortunately not all cases are reported. For example to prevent image damage. But the impact is enormous. Affected businesses are often out of business for extended periods of time and affected public bodies are temporarily unable to provide services to citizens. There is an increase in serious, internationally organized crime in this area.’

With the Ransomware Taskforce, the police emphatically focus on combating this. Private companies, government agencies and the National Cyber ​​​​Security Center (NCSS) are also part of the task force. Van der Plas: ‘Together we are looking at how we can frustrate the business model of this criminal chain. For example, by disrupting their communication options. We do this in an international context, because the perpetrators work all over the world. Sometimes also from countries where we do not have access. This makes detection more difficult. Based on our operational insights, we also provide entrepreneurs and public institutions with information on improving the security of their ICT. In this way, we increase digital robustness.’


The police also observe that young people in particular are increasingly turning to cybercrime at a younger age. Presumably because it is a relatively accessible form of crime, where the victims remain invisible to them. Therefore, the police emphatically target vulnerable young people to prevent them from slipping further away. This is done under the banner of the Cyber ​​​​Offender Prevention Squad (COPS), a police team where several areas of expertise have been brought together. ‘We examine which factors play a role in committing cybercrime and devise interventions with which we can prevent or break through cybercriminal careers,’ says Floor Jansen on behalf of the police. She founded COPS two and a half years ago.

The initiatives of this team have a wide range: from general information such as public campaigns to targeted approaches for vulnerable young people and first offenders. “We develop, test and evaluate our interventions,” says Jansen. ‘We are working closely with our operational police team to strengthen the effectiveness of their criminal investigations.’ This has led to several interventions such as online games that playfully make young people aware of the risks and consequences of cybercrime, workshops for vulnerable young people and their parents, stop talks with first offenders and convicted young cybercriminals who follow a program to prevent recidivism. as part of their sentence.

With this approach, the Dutch police are an international forerunner in the prevention of offenders. Jansen: ‘We have set up an international i-cop network and exchange knowledge with Europol. We also work with other police departments and private parties. The police are fully committed to preventing, disrupting and detecting cybercrime.’

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