Interpol turns up the heat on cyber crooks

Interpol is planning to upgrade its database so police forces around the world can better track the Internet addresses of suspected cyber crooks.

The upgrade of the international police agency's database is scheduled to happen by next year. It will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime, which provides many countries with the foundation to conduct cross-border investigations of computer criminals.

Bernhard Otupal, assistant director of Interpol's financial hi-tech crime unit, said Interpol's present database made it difficult for police to look up Internet addresses suspected and known to be used by cyber criminals, most of whom are thought to operate internationally.

"We have a lot of numbers in there," he told THINQ at a recent Cyber Crime meeting at the Council of Europe. "If we search for an IP address, we only have the last six digits. That could bring up a telephone number, a vehicle identification number, things like that."

"To speed this process up, we want to have a dedicated field which just takes IP addresses," said Oputal.

The upgrade to Interpol's database would include the addition of fields storing the internet log files taken from confiscated computers, which may tell police the IP addresses of people trying to access a web servers used by criminal networks.

Interpol also plans to add other fields specific to internet crimes, including nicknames used by criminals, as they tend not to use their real names, and email addresses. There would effectively be, said Otupal, a section of the database dedicated to storing the details of internet crimes.

Interpol's database consists of data aggregated from 188 police forces around the world and is shared out again through its I-24/7 communications portal. The agency says it is trying to persuade border and immigration guards to use the portal as well.