The federal government is set to launch its Joint Policing Cybercrime Coordination Centre (JPC3) to improve the nation’s virtual security efforts.
The centre is set to be operational from March 2022 and will work alongside the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), the nation’s operational lead on cyber security incidents.
It will be led by the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough, who will operate a "cyber command" and will be the AFP’s first full-time executive focused on dealing with cyber crime.
“This AFP-led cyber crime centre will be cutting edge and will ensure Australia is leading the world on cyber security,” said Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews.
“Australians work hard for their money and the AFP is working tirelessly to prevent cyber criminals from scamming, stealing and defrauding them.
“The JPC3 will super charge our efforts to seize criminals’ money and assets, put offenders behind bars and protect Australian’s digital data.”
The centre will certainly have its work cut out for it, with AFP Cybercrime Operations charging eight offenders with 21 offences during the last financial year, as well as carrying out 163 disruption activities during that time.
“The AFP has investigated a large range of cyber crime methods with business email compromise, intrusion against industry/government and malware at the top of the list,” Gough said.
“Investigations primarily covered ACT, NSW, VIC and QLD jurisdictions however, given the borderless nature of the cybercrime, victims and offenders were located right around Australia.
“The JPC3, plus the new cyber command, will work hand in glove with the Australian Signals Directorate and the Department of Home Affairs, to help protect Australians from cyber criminals.
“It means the AFP-led JPC3 will target at scale those cyber criminals who trick firms using business email compromise or unleash mass phishing attacks, which can scam individuals out of personal information or money,” she added.
Gough has spent 31 years at the AFP, with recent operations under her observation being responsible for the prevention and/or recovery of at over $30 million in relation to cyber crimes.
For example, operational disruptive activity in May 2021 saw nearly $24 million in superannuation funds prevented from falling into cyber criminals’ hands.
Operation Dolos, meanwhile, a joint AFP and state and territory police taskforce focused on business email compromise through cyber crime financial kill chains, stopped $8.5 million being lost to cyber criminals.
In addition, the AFP also identified Operations Zinger and Capertee, which did not have any financial results attributed to them but were still significant.
Operation Zinger was focused on a criminal marketplace related to the online sale of cyber crime software in conjunction with a foreign law enforcement agency. The operation found over 500,000 compromised online credentials within over 500GB of data.
Operation Capertee on the other hand is an ongoing investigation into a syndicate that uses malware to compromise the financial details of bank holders, with 27,000 potential victims identified in 2020 alone.
The launching of JPC3 comes months after the ACSC revealed in September it had recorded over 1,500 cyber crime reports per month related to the coronavirus pandemic during the last financial year, or about four per day.
In total, the ASCS received 18,000 such reports over the last 12 months to 30 June 2021, with more than 75 per cent of pandemic-linked cyber acts resulting in lost money or financial information.