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    Justice: harder crackdown on cybercrime

    © Belga
    The new circular aims at faster identification of IT attacks but is also a means to gather data on similar attacks.
    © Belga

    The College of Senior Crown Prosecutors announced on Monday that it had just disseminated a new circular on cybercrime. This applies more specifically to “ransomware”, I.T. viruses with a ransom demand attached. A specific and standardised statement has been developed to enable the police to compile all complaints about “ransomware” more quickly and accurately. Equally the courts will be able to prosecute the offences for the prevention of bribery and computer sabotage.

    The aim of the new circular is to enable more rapid identification of all I.T attacks, but also to gather data upon similar attacks more quickly. This applies both to attacks which solely take place in Belgium or in Belgium and abroad.

    The communiqué from the College of Senior Crown Prosecutors states, “All complaints will be dealt with by the same prosecuting judge, more specifically the judge who deals with ‘cybercrime’ in each district.”

    The College further states, “The circular…enacts the procedures aiming to group together all individual complaints with others into a single criminal investigation, as part of the same ‘ransomware’ operation. As a first step, this will apply within Belgium and then at international level.”

    The phenomenon of “ransomware”, or “virus hostage takers”, involves a malicious IT program. This executes an unwanted manipulation within the IT system of a given victim, which then demands a ransom amount to enable the system to once again function normally.

    In May and June, such attacks affected numerous businesses across the world, including in Belgium. The Centre for Cyber-security (known as the “CCB”) identified five Belgian businesses which had suffered such attacks at that time. Moreover all of these attacks, which occurred almost simultaneously, indeed seemed to come from a single hacker or a single group of hackers.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times