As people around the world become more reliant on information and communication technologies (ICTs), criminals are increasingly shifting online. In 2020 alone, the FBI estimated more than $4 billion was lost to cybercrime in the United States. Critical sectors such as healthcare providers were increasingly hit by ransomware that took them offline during the pandemic. Vulnerabilities in technology and lack of sufficient attention to security by users provide cybercriminals with low-risk, high-reward opportunities for illicit gain, often enabled by insufficient regulation and weak enforcement by nation-states. These crimes can range from intellectual property theft (which undermines American innovation and costs businesses billions of dollars in losses) to ransomware (which can impact critical sectors, threaten national and economic security, and disrupt American daily life).
To adjust to this everchanging landscape and the borderless nature of these crimes, INL promotes proactive action against cybercriminals through international law enforcement cooperation, capacity building, and technical assistance.
INL’s specific priorities to combat cybercrime are:
Strengthening Justice for U.S. Victims
Within its various activities, INL helps disrupt and deter cybercrimes that impact Americans. This work is implemented in several ways, including use of the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP), or in tandem with interagency partners such as Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to utilize sanctions and deterrence tools.
Promoting International Cooperation
Cybercrime is a significant and growing threat to our national and economic security that only effective international cooperation can address. INL promotes American policies on cybercrime by working with other nations bilaterally and multilaterally and through regional and international institutions including the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, G-7, Organization of American States, African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
INL encourages nations to effectively use existing legal tools such as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), and 24/7 Network Points of Contact. The Budapest Convention is the first international treaty dedicated to promoting international standards and cooperation to fight cybercrimes and has substantially improved the capacity of the international community to respond to the challenge of cybercrime over the past twenty years. INL’s goal is to strengthen international law enforcement cooperation while identifying and remedying “weak links” in the global enforcement architecture that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
Building Enforcement Capacity
There is near universal demand for cybercrime training and technical assistance around the world, creating opportunities for INL to help strengthen foreign partner enforcement capacity. A key tool to address global crime networks is the U.S. Transnational and High-Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network (GLEN), an adaptive initiative that deploys International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Advisors (ICHIPs), experienced U.S. law enforcement experts, to deliver sustained mentoring and training to foreign counterparts designed to provide near-term operational success. INL also operates a global network of International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEA) which provide capacity building and promote regional networks of experts to stop cybercrime.