Interpol Launches African Cybercrime Initiative and Operations Desk

By Bill Toulas / May 13, 2021

Interpol is opening an African desk in Singapore, part of an initiative aimed to help curb cybercrime operations stemming from the continent, as well as to provide aid and advice to 49 African countries on how to develop effective regional strategies. The project is named “African Joint Operation against Cybercrime” (AFJOC) and is expected to run until at least February 2023. It has a budget of £2.9 million, and it is supported by the UK FCDO (Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office).

Cybercrime is a huge problem in countries that are struck by poverty and socioeconomic issues, and unfortunately, Africa has no shortage of problems of this kind. Many people see internet hacking, scamming, and fraud as a way out of their dire financial situation, causing damages to the world economy measured in the trillions.

Interpol wants to help African countries promote a safe, free, open, and peaceful cyberspace that people use to access reliable information, not engage in tricking one another, threatening companies, and creating problems. According to stats shared by the agency, it is estimated that in 2017, cybercriminals stole an average of $2.7 million from companies and $422k from individuals per attack.

As a spokesperson of the financial supporters of this project stated, the goal is to bring together like-minded partners that will help in enforcing international cyberspace laws, educate people and the law enforcement authorities on the rules, predict threats and prevent them proactively, and respond to the ever-evolving attack models developed by local hacking and BEC (business email compromise) groups.

Operation-wise, AFJOC will gather intelligence, develop response frameworks, conduct cross-jurisdictional cybercrime investigations across African countries, manage and prioritize investigations, locate key individuals and perpetrators, and help the local police forces arrest them. It is clear that most African states don’t have the capacity or capability to combat cybercrime at the required level, so Interpol will come to the rescue through this project.

Source: Interpol

The Singapore-based desk will be the center of operations, communicating and collaborating with the authorities in 49 countries. Even after the end of the project in 2023, it will continue offering advice on the adoption of best practices.

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