A Home Office minister has stressed the government’s intention is that ‘the UK continues to shape the global conversation’ and works closely with the likes of Europol and the FBI
UK authorities need to maintain and expand on their work with international counterparts in order to tackle the international threat of cybercrime, a minister has claimed.
The UK’s National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre work closely with overseas peers including, intelligence agencies and law-enforcement bodies from the US and Europe, according to Andrew Sharpe – a Conservative peer and a minister at the Home Office.
Such cooperation is crucial in helping tackle what is a cross-border threat – which, in many cases, emanates from nations with governments unfriendly to the UK.
“Cybercrime is a global threat,” the minister said. “Criminals and the technical infrastructure they use are often based in uncooperative jurisdictions, making international collaboration essential. Across our law enforcement network, we seek to maximise international links as part of our response to criminal activity. Alongside working closely with UK police and regional organised crime units, the NCA have built crucial relationships with partners such as Europol, the FBI, and the US Secret Service to assess cybercrime risks, share intelligence and coordinate action.”
Sharpe – who was answering a written parliamentary question from Labour peer Wilf Stevenson – cited several recent examples in which, working alongside international allies, UK agencies had been able to disrupt the operations of hostile cyber actors.
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“The NCA works to identify cybercriminals impacting the UK, wherever they are in the world – working with international partners to target and disrupt cybercriminal gangs and the illicit cybercrime ecosystem that supports them,” he said. “For example, in February 2023, we announced sanctions against seven Russian cyber criminals involved in the notorious organised crime group behind many of the most damaging ransomware groups in the last few years involving TRICKBOT, CONTI and RYUK ransomware. A second wave of sanctions was announced in September demonstrating the NCA’s unrelenting targeting of cybercriminals.”
Going forward, the government is committed that the UK will remain a central player in helping direct cyber policy on the world stage.
“The UK continues to shape the global conversation at multilateral forums and bilaterally to drive cooperation to deter malicious cyber activity. We have promoted the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime since it was agreed in 2001, and we are taking an active role in the development of the proposed UN treaty on cybercrime, to ensure that it supports international cooperation on tackling crimes that all countries face, while protecting human rights.”
In recent years, UK and US agencies have joined forces on several occasions to call out cyber aggression – particularly from Russia. In 2018, the NCSC and the FBI – along with the US Department of Homeland Security – teamed up in what the-then head of the UK cyber agency Ciaran Martin described as “significant moment in the transatlantic fightback against Russia’s aggressive activity in cyberspace… we are holding Russia to account, and improving our defences at the same time”.
Top cybercrime officers at the NCA have also spoken about their efforts to forge closer ties in some of Russia’s neighbouring countries, in order to help tackle criminals operating in the region.