New RCIPS digital forensic hub opens

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has launched a digital forensic hub, making Cayman a cybercrime-investigating focal point for all overseas territories.

It is hoped that, with the new hub, cybercrime numbers will be reduced. Cyber-related crimes have been on the rise globally and Cayman is no different, as these types of crimes nearly doubled last year.

As of December last year, according to the RCIPS 2018 crime statistics report, more than 72 incidents of cybercrime-related incidents were investigated.

Cyber offences like business email compromise, a scam that targets victims through their business email address with the aim of defrauding them; sextortion with password email; and social media impersonation/fraud were the most common cybercrimes reported last year.

Sextortion with password email was a new offence flagged last year. It is essentially a malware scam that is sent to a user’s email claiming to have access to the user’s webcam which recorded potentially damaging videos of that person engaging in sexual acts. The scammer then threatens to release the videos unless the user pays a fee.

The new digital hub, which is co-funded by the UK National Crime Agency, will be used to help safeguard children from child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as combat various other forms of cybercrime, which are not restricted by borders, according to an RCIPS statement Tuesday.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne, commenting on the opening of the latest addition to the RCIPS crimefighting arsenal, said it is critical that local law enforcement continues to strengthen professional ties with detailed information sharing.

“Our collaboration with the NCA has resulted in the accumulation of modern systems to enhance our capability to tackle this growing trend of online child sexual exploitation and cybercrime,” said Byrne. “The digital forensic hub will allow us to work closely with our international partners to combat online child sexual exploitation, inclusive of exchange of intelligence, sharing of best practices and lessons learnt.”

The hub opened its doors last Wednesday in George Town.

The RCIPS said the local facility will serve as a cybercrime investigative hub for all of the overseas territories in the region. It was designed and outfitted from the ground up to provide a secure environment for processing digital devices.

The hub, police said in the statement, was specially designed to prevent contamination, tampering or data loss, and to process large amounts of data in a short time.

It was also designed to allow a multinational cooperative approach to tackling cybercrime, police said.

Newly appointed Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran welcomed the opening of the hub, saying it will be a useful resource for cracking cases and moving prosecutions forward.

“Being able to improve our ability to forensically examine digital evidence is going to boost investigation powers, our investigations outcomes. It’s not just about cybercrimes,” he said.
Moran explained that some may have the concept of cybercrimes as someone sitting somewhere in a darkened room committing financial offences by moving money from one account to another.

“Of course, that’s one way or one form of cybercrime, but equally online stalking, that’s another form of cybercrime, and sharing of indecent images of children, that’s a big global problem,” he said. “There are many forms of crime that digital forensics will serve to fight and I hope very much that our hub will improve that fight or our ability to fight that fight.”

Governor Martyn Roper cut the ribbon to open the hub and took a tour of the facility. He was also briefed on its capabilities and remit.

The opening coincided with a comprehensive 10-day Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Conference and Masterclass Seminar held in Grand Cayman.

Law enforcement officers and analysts from several other British Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Falkland Islands, and Namibia in Africa attended the conference.

It featured trainers from the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance.

The conference focussed on the internet as an investigation tool, online research and analysis, investigating child abuse material on the internet, digital forensics and recovery, and presenting digital evidence, amongst other topics.

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