What is J-CAT and how does it fight cybercrime?
The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), launched in September 2014 and located at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), assists in fighting cybercrime within and outside the EU.
J-CAT targets key cybercrime threats through facilitating cross-border investigations and operations in collaboration with its network of partners. It tackles:
- High-tech crimes (such as malware, botnets and intrusion)
- The facilitation of crime (bulletproof hosting, counter-antivirus services, infrastructure leasing and rental, money laundering and crimes involving virtual currencies)
- Online fraud (online payment systems, carding, social engineering)
- Online child sexual exploitation
Who are the J-CAT members and partners?
J-CAT consists of a standing operational team of cyber liaison officers which come from:
- Several EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).
- Non-EU law enforcement partners (Australia, Canada, Colombia, Norway, Switzerland and the United States, which is represented by both the FBI and Secret Service).
- EC3 staff members (who also cooperate with national experts from Eurojust)
These officers work together in Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands.
How does J-CAT choose which cases to pursue?
J-CAT chooses and prioritises which cases to pursue based, among other things, on proposals from the country liaison officers. Members:
- Select the most relevant proposals
- Share, collect and enrich data on the cases in question
- Develop an action plan, which is led by the country that submitted the selected proposal
- Go through all the necessary steps to ensure the case is ready to become a target of law enforcement action — a process that involves consulting with judicial authorities, the identification of the required resources and the allocation of responsibilities.
What are some examples of successful J-CAT operations?
In 2015, the J-CAT was involved in eight successful operations, including operations Triangle, Bugbyte, Bluebonnet, R2D2 and B58 (Dorkbot), as well as one international crime prevention campaign: Blackfin.
An example of an action that the J-CAT and EC3 have supported was the Austrian-initiated operation against the cybercriminal group Distributed Denial of Service for Bitcoin (DD4BC), which had exploited the increasing popularity of pseudonymous payment mechanisms and had been responsible, starting in mid-2014, for several Bitcoin extortion campaigns.