Europol annual report cites progress against illegal streaming, cyber-threats

Sponsor ad - 728w x 90h (at 72 dpi)
Image source: Europol

While Europol supported a number of anti-piracy efforts over the course of 2023, only one specific case made its way into its 2023 annual report: in which Europol supported Dutch authorities in taking down an illegal IPTV (Internet Protocol television) service serving over 1,000,000 users across Europe; which Europol did not identify by name.

On May 23, 2023, a series of raids were carried out across the Netherlands as part of an illegal streaming crackdown. Several individuals were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the illegal streaming of premium content. Packages bought by subscribers gave them access to over 10,000 live TV channels, alongside a library of 15,000 films and TV shows.

Sponsor ad

Europol supported this investigation with analytical support, and with the organization of several operational meetings. Europol experts were also deployed in various locations in the Netherlands during the action day.

Europol actions against related cyber-crimes:

  • Europol supported the takedown of the notorious Genesis Market on an April 4 action day, in a combined effort with the US FBI, Dutch National Police and a team consisting of law enforcement agencies from 17 countries. A command post was set up at Europol’s headquarters on the action day to coordinate the different enforcement measures being carried out across the globe.
  • In October, Ragnar Locker, a prolific ransomware operation that targeted Windows devices, extracted payments both for decryption keys and for non-release of stolen data.  A  international sweep followed a complex investigation led by the French National Gendarmerie, together with law enforcement authorities from the Czechia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States.  Europol set up a virtual command post and coordinated the takedown operation with the help of Eurojust.
  • With support from Europol, Dutch Police (Politie) and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations, German Regional Police (Landeskriminalamt Nordrhein-Westfalen – LKA NRW) and Ukrainian National Police (Націона́льна полі́ція Украї́ни) targeted suspected core members of the criminal group responsible for carrying out large-scale cyberattacks with the DoppelPaymer ransomware, which appeared in 2019 when cybercriminals started using it to launch attacks against organizations and critical infrastructure and industries.

In 2023, the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) provided support to 451 operations, exceeding the target of 430 operations set for the year, and the 2022 result (446).

In Q1 of 2023, Europol’s Dark Web team released the Dark Web Landscape Report, providing an overview of the strategic criminal intelligence picture for the online trade in illicit goods and services, as well as a guide highlighting the possibilities of law enforcement cooperation with the AP Dark Web

Europol’s strategic priorities

Europol Strategic Priorities. Source: 2023 Europol Consolidated Annual Activity Report

Not just crime-fighting

About half of the Report details Europol successes and challenges around malicious botnets, ransomware, cybercrime actions, and intellectual property matters, and the rest contains tables and financial statistics of Europol’s activities.

Beyond its actions in pursuit of international crime, Europol described its work over the past year, to enhance its electronic communication and file exchange platforms, and boost their interoperability with both internal and outside stakeholders. In July 2023, Europol launched the EU Platform on Illegal Content Online (PERCI), and noted that it is being adopted by EU member states to convey referrals and take-down orders for illegal content online.  More than 1.8 million messages via its SIENA (Secure Information Exchange Network Appliciation) network.

Further reading

Consolidated Annual Activity Report, 2023. Report. Dated June 18, 2024. Published June 30, 2024. Europol

FBI, Europol and 17 countries shut Genesis Market: Has your personal identity been stolen?  Article. April 5, 2023. Piracy Monitor

Ragnar Locker ransomware group taken down by Europol and law enforcement from 11 countries. Article. October 20, 2023. Piracy Monitor

Europol and police of four countries hit DoppelPaymer ransomware cyberattackers.  Article. March 6, 2023. Piracy Monitor

Why it matters

Comments following the Ragnar Locker operation apply to all of the anti-piracy and cybercrime actions by Europol: “This investigation shows that once again international cooperation is the key to taking … groups down,” said Edvardas Šileris, The Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre. “Prevention and security are improving, however … operators continue to innovate and find new victims.

“Europol will play its role in supporting EU Member States as they target these groups, and each case is helping us improve our modes of investigation and our understanding of these groups,” he said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
From our Sponsors