Fighting internet-based financial crimes and scams

As a powerful force for good around the world, the internet is also exploited by criminals to steal money from people. An EU-funded project is creating an innovative, IT-based platform to help law enforcement fight web-based crimes. The aim is to protect people against internet-based theft and scams.

Today's internet plays a vital role in a vast number of money-making enterprises, including those of the criminal kind. Illegal activities that existed long before the internet, such as theft and swindling, now flourish on the World Wide Web.

The internet allows criminals to hide their real identities and to easily and cheaply obtain specialised software tools, such as malware, for stealing sensitive data from anywhere. Internet crime is also borderless and requires coordination among national authorities.

The EU-funded RAMSES project aims to design and develop an integrated and user-friendly IT-based platform to help law-enforcement agencies carry out digital forensic investigations and work together to catch cybercriminals.

RAMSES project partners are working with software developers, internet crime victims and potential RAMSES platform end-users. The aim is to obtain a better understanding of how and where malware is spread and to identify the perpetrators.

The RAMSES system extracts, analyses, links together and interprets information related to different kinds of malware.

The project is relying on 'big data' technologies. The term ‘big data’ refers to the huge datasets now being generated by increasing digitisation. Of particular interest are those datasets generated by online financial transactions.

The project is extracting enormous amounts of unstructured and structured data, and then looking for patterns of fraudulent behaviour. The team is targeting in particular criminal activities that involve the use of ransomware, malicious software that takes over your computer and then demands a payment to restore access.

Also of great concern are so-called ‘banking Trojans’, computer programmes designed to gain access to confidential information stored or processed through online banking systems.

Validation pilot studies of the RAMSES platform are being undertaken in three different EU countries – Portugal, Belgium and Spain. Other studies will examine a collaborative investigation pilot between several law-enforcement agencies.

The commercial potential of the system is also being validated during the project, supported by a full feasibility study and appropriate business models.

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