The EC3 will focus on illegal online activities by organised crime groups and will place a significant amount of time investigating e-banking attacks, online child sexual exploitation and information systems within the EU.
"The Cybercrime Centre will give a strong boost to the EU’s capacity to fight cybercrime and defend an internet that is free, open and secure. Cybercriminals are smart and quick in using new technologies for criminal purposes; the EC3 will help us become even smarter and quicker to help prevent and fight their crimes", said Commissioner Malmström.
A recent Eurobarometer revealed that 89% of internet users avoid giving personal information online and 12% have experienced online fraud.
Nearly one million people around the workd are victims of cybercrime each day with victims losing around £240m each year as a result of cybercriminal activities.
"In combating cybercrime, with its borderless nature and huge ability for the criminals to hide, we need a flexible and adequate response. The European Cybercrime Centre is designed to deliver this expertise as a fusion centre, as a centre for operational investigative and forensic support, but also through its ability to mobilise all relevant resources in EU Member States to mitigate and reduce the threat from cybercriminals wherever they operate from", said Troels Oerting, Head of the European Cybercrime Centre.
The Centre will also support and facilitate research related to cybercrime as well as producing threat assessments, analyses, warnings and forecasts.
The EC3 will also provide a Cybercrime Help desk for law enforcement units within the EU as well as gathering and processing data related to cybercrimes.
Organised crime groups, terrorist groups and other criminals are quick to exploit the opportunities afforded by developments in technology, and the time is ripe for the authorities to get one step ahead," said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol. "The European Cybercrime Centre will provide governments, businesses and citizens throughout the Union with the tools to tackle cybercrime.
Building on Europol’s proven track record and unique expertise in this area, and with the support of the Member States, other EU bodies, international partners, and the private sector, the European Cybercrime Centre will make the EU smarter, faster and stronger in its fight against cybercrime."
While the European Commission plans to tackle cybercrime within the EU, security experts say that to truly stop cybercriminals prosecution needs to occur on an international since many activities are internationally organised.
"The news that the European Commission is taking cyber crime seriously by investing in the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) is to be applauded," said Wieland Alge, EMEA vice president at Barracuda Networks. "Because of the international nature of cybercrime – where country borders no longer restrict criminal operations – having one organisation that can oversee and co-ordinate things has to be a step in the right direction. However, even this European-wide initiative makes it difficult to effectively bring criminals who threaten our lives and economy to justice. As for trying to rely on national prosecution, it is simply is not enough.
"Prosecution of criminals needs to happen on an international basis, since they are internationally organised. However, protection against attacks must take place in each country where the victim resides. In order to help address this and support growing international initiatives, precautions must be taken at all levels to prevent the crime happening in the first place. A good start is by ensuring effective perimeter defences such as firewalls and strong security policies are in place to start with."