Manila rolls out its La Niña Implementation Plan

The Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) rolled out the first phase of the city's La Niña Implementation Plan to ensure proper coordination and the safety of the general public.
In a statement, the MDRRMO said, its objectives include the conduct of risk assessment and analysis in all affected areas, determine vulnerabilities and provide continuous advisories and warnings to constituents on passable routes, evacuation centers, danger and safe zones as well as other pertinent information.
Under its implementation, MDRRMO will lead and organize teams to conduct emergency preparedness response and management operations. This includes support and close coordination with the department's Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
In line with this, MDRRMO will also conduct inspections for early warning systems to provide redundancy and avoid false alarms. This will pave way to the evaluation of the city's capabilities, inventory of its assets and available vehicles for response operations.
As a preventive measure, the Barangays together with the Department of Public Services (DPS) Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) and other agencies shall continue to conduct declogging operations and sewage maintenance activities to help control and minimize flooding in communities and main roads.
Earlier this year, the Manila City government purchased about 80 polyvinyl chloride (PVC) rescue boats which can effectively aid rescue operations and can be strategically deployed in low-lying areas.
According to the Metropolitan Manila Development Association (MMDA) Flood Control Division, there are 31 major creeks across the six districts, wherein 11 are in the first and second district; 9 in the third and fourth districts; and 11 in the fifth and sixth districts.
MDRRMO shall also be responsible in providing situational reports to the Office of the Civil Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Metro Manila Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council.
Meanwhile, the Manila Barangay Bureau shall provide manpower augmentation and maintain the peace and order within communities.
To assist in search and rescue operations and to lead fire emergency situations during La Niña, MDRRMO coordinated with the Bureau of Fire Protection.
Furthermore, DEPW shall assist in restoration of power lines to avoid accidents and cases of electrocution. The department shall also be in charge of construction of additional evacuation centers if deemed necessary.
Moreover, DPS shall deploy its personnel to conduct clean-up operations and maintenance activities in evacuation and rescue centers.
To ensure safe, secure and accessible evacuation sites, the Manila Department of Social Welfare (MDSW) shall provide temporary shelters for the evacuees. MDSW shall also be in charge of relief distribution and camp management.
The Manila Health Department (MHD) shall play a vital role in the provision of medical treatment and control procedures to ensure safety especially if the situation occurs during the pandemic outbreak.
Overall, MDRRMO shall coordinate, monitor and establish guidelines and measures to effectively prevent drastic effects, publish early forecasts to allow the local government to provide multi-sectoral support and mitigate environmental and economic risks.

New Report: Cities at risk – Building a resilient future for the world’s urban centres

A new report has been published by Lloyds, focusing on cities trends.
Cities are now the most important entities in society. More than half the world’s population now lives in urban areas and this is projected to reach two-thirds by 2050, and they are the engines of the global economy.
Yet cities all over the world are facing multiple challenges, such as climate change, cyber risks and pandemics, and are looking to strengthen their resilience.
This new Lloyd’s report, commissioned before COVID-19 and published in collaboration with Urban Foresight and Newcastle University, provides a comprehensive analysis of the risks’ cities are facing and will face in the future. It looks at their impacts and how urban areas can protect themselves from these threats.
It also suggests ways in which insurers and the relevant authorities could work together to build resilience, reduce risks and develop new insurance products and services that meet cities’ risk needs. This study helps city administrators and risk managers, as well as Lloyd’s market insurers and brokers, understand the risks that will influence the design and function of cities in the coming decade, and how insurance product development could respond to these changes.

New Report: Saint Lucia’s national infrastructure assessment

Infrastructure forms the backbone of Saint Lucia’s society, delivering services that provide for the daily needs of its citizens while supporting a strong tourism-based economy that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to the island each year. However, the island faces economic vulnerabilities due to its small size and reliance on imports, while its geography leaves it exposed to natural hazards such as flooding and landslides that threaten lives and livelihoods. As a result of climate change, the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes affecting the island is likely to increase. Human-caused disasters, as exemplified by the current COVID-19 pandemic, can have also have devastating impacts on development and economic outcomes.
At the same time, Saint Lucia possesses a wealth of resources that can be harnessed to support sustainable growth and increase the country’s resilience to extreme weather events. The island’s natural beauty, favourable renewable energy conditions, and agricultural potential provide it with opportunities to develop a sustainable and self-sufficient economy. Recognising this, decisionmakers in government and the private sector have a responsibility to deepen the understanding of these challenges and opportunities, and to best position infrastructure as a driver of sustainable development. For example, by modelling future energy and water needs, policy-makers can take appropriate long-term actions to counter fossil fuel dependency and minimise water shortages. Utilising a range of available spatial data on natural hazards can help prioritise risk-reduction initiatives across physical and natural assets and inform the building of new development projects. An understanding of the interactions and impacts between infrastructure sectors can help identify efficient and cost-effective actions to achieve strategic national targets and objectives.
This report establishes the first milestone in a partnership between the Government of Saint Lucia (GoSL), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and the University of Oxford-led Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC). The purpose of the report is to establish a vision for the island’s future infrastructure aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Long-term demand for infrastructure services in Saint Lucia is projected to increase as it pursues economic ambitions to grow its tourism and agriculture sectors.

The Call to Work Towards Better Governance

Disaster risk governance is entering a critical period. Not only has it been suddenly and overwhelmingly put to the test by the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is also the cutoff year for Target E of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the first target to complete its action plan, which calls for a “substantial increase in the number of national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction by 2020.”
It could not be otherwise, therefore, that the focus this year on October 13, the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR), will be on good governance as a pathway to effective risk reduction. “COVID-19 and the climate emergency are telling us that we need clear vision, plans and competent, empowered institutions acting on scientific evidence for the public good,” says Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The robustness of the COVID-19 pandemic in all sectors has also sent a loud and clear message concerning governance: the risk is systemic, and some risks are increasingly acting in cohort with others to create a cascading impact on the entire system. Beyond the evident undermining of health systems, it is estimated that the GDP for Latin America and the Caribbean could fall by 9.1% in 2020, according to the United Nations report ‘The Impact of COVID-19 on Latin America and the Caribbean’. Moreover, the document foresees a rise of 5.4% in unemployment, 7% in poverty and 4.5% in extreme poverty as well as an increase of 4 million people experiencing a situation of acute food insecurity.
“It is fundamental that each country develop a strategy for analyzing and systematizing the response to COVID-19. Many countries surely need to update key risk governance aspects to foster a clear analysis of the systemic risk confronted by each country, but above all to enable a response to any sort of threat regardless of its source, duration or impact,” declares Ciro Ugarte, Director for Health Emergencies at the Regional Office of the Pan American Health Organization.
Governance leads the way
Extensive evidence indicates that good disaster risk governance springs from the collaboration and alliances among mechanisms and institutions to reduce disaster risk and pave the way toward sustainable development.
As an example, Uruguay’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic resonated throughout the entire region. Through the formation of a comprehensive body that brought together decision makers, scientists and academics, it became possible to apply strategies and plans that shaped the management of the health crisis - only 1500 infections - and reduced the risk of the socio-economic threats that have shaken so many other countries. “The pandemic led to the establishment of various agreements and the beginning of a more holistic focus on risk. It also enhanced and deepened a culture of risk management and awareness,” asserts Sergio Rico, Director of Uruguay’s National Emergency System.
Science and technology have become key allies of good risk governance. The gathering of data and information allows for the construction of threat projections and risk scenarios intended to reduce the impact of disasters, especially in populations afflicted by poverty, exclusion, and inequality.
The Coordinating Center for Disaster Prevention in Central America and the Dominican Republic (CEPREDENAC) has taken advantage of the benefits of technology to strengthen disaster risk management in the region. Through the Information and Coordination Platform for the COVID-19 Emergency, a resource available through the web portal of the Central American Integration System (SICA), these countries consolidated information to complement national efforts, enhancing strategic focuses in the region.
“The digital platform focused on taking steps to characterize the three dimensions of disaster risk (exposure, vulnerability and resilience) in an effort to prevent the creation of new risks, reduce existing risks, increase resilience and create mechanisms that allow us to understand the pandemic’s impact on a regional level,” explains Claudia Herrera, CEPREDENAC Executive Secretary.
Herrera adds that comprehensive efforts are essential to the promotion of good governance to “move the region forward through a combination of work, ideas and experiences across governments and the private sector.”
The private sector in particular has been among the systems with the greatest need to rely on resilience during the pandemic. “The crisis affected demand and supply, increased cost of doing business, reduced working capital and human resource and caused a disruption in logistics and high cost of transportation,” stresses Lizra Fabien, Executive Director of the Dominica Association of Industry & Commerce (DAIC) and former President of the Network of Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM).
In this sense, the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) has become the preferred platform for a robust private sector that can work hand-in-hand with the public sector in creating good governance. “This process of recuperation will also develop regional collaboration and implement the good practices we learn from one another to ensure that we come out of this crisis as a stronger region,” Fabien adds.
Working toward good governance
In this way, the COVID-19 pandemic and Target E of the Sendai Framework are together creating a favorable environment to improve governance in the region. As Ugarte says: “In times of crisis, it is necessary to continue to strengthen good governance in disaster risk reduction strategies at national, regional and world levels.”
“The most significant driver of disaster risk is weak governance. It is necessary to have clear objectives, plans, directives, and coordination across all sectors. All of us are responsible for reducing disaster risk, which is key to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. We must build good governance to guarantee a prosperous and safe future,” emphasizes Raúl Salazar, Chief of the Americas/Caribbean Regional Office of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).
Governance must take a broad and deep view of risks and their impact, taking into account their social construction. In its most basic and fundamental justification, it is on a par with life itself, concludes Mami Mizutori: “Good disaster risk governance can be measured by lives saved, fewer people affected and reduced economic losses.”

Nepal’s ‘bottom-up’ approach to disaster risk governance

Since the tragedy of the 2015 earthquakes, Nepal has undergone a political and structural transformation in how it approaches disaster risk governance. This has resulted in the decentralization of authority to the lowest levels of government in an effort to build resilience from the ground up.
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is most effective when the people who are most impacted by disasters have a say in setting policy priorities. Not only does this help ensure buy-in at the local level, but strategies and plans become informed by the realities on the ground.
In the case of Nepal, the devastating earthquakes of 2015, coupled with the country’s transition to a federal system of government under a new constitution, created the conditions for a disaster risk governance system that is responsive to local needs.
The constitution devolved power and resources to local governments and mandated the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation across the three tiers of governments in Nepal: local, provincial, and federal.
At the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Government of Nepal announced that the disaster management funds are being allocated to all the 753 local governments in the country.
Two examples of a “bottom-up” approach to disaster risk governance at the local level can be found in the municipality of Palungtar in the Gorkha district and Indrawati in the Sindhupalchowk district. In both municipalities, local governments took the lead in developing their own multi-hazard disaster risk reduction plans. With the support of UN agencies, Nepal’s local leaders, who are democratically elected, have also made disaster prevention a focus of their time in office.
“Palungtar municipality is currently leading the development and implementation of DRR mechanisms while strengthening ward offices as frontline institutions. UNDP has supported us in creating an enabling environment through a DRR strategic action plan. I, as the Mayor of this municipality, will exercise my administrative and political authority in reducing disaster risk, benefiting our people,” said Mr. Deepak Babu Kandel, Mayor of Palungtar municipality.
At the provincial level, the government of the Sudurpashchim Pradesh province recently developed and endorsed its own DRR Policy and Strategic Action Plan following an inclusive consultative process.
Led by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Executive Committee, and aided by the UN and international NGOs, the consultations stretched for over a year and included district governments, provincial ministries, humanitarian partners, and stakeholders. Efforts were also made to bring the consultations to various locations to ensure the participation of a wide range of stakeholders from across the province.
The new plan is currently in being implemented and the provincial government just completed a resource mobilization analysis to fund the plan from various sectors.
The progress at the municipality and provincial levels was made possible by overarching guidance and support from the federal level. Specifically, this was done under the umbrella of Nepal’s National Policy and Strategic Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management 2018-2030, which in turn was developed in response to the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2017.
While the Ministry of Home Affairs remains the DRR policy hub in Nepal, another outcome of the Act of 2017 has been the establishment of the new National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) in 2019 to operationalize disaster risk management.
“One of our key functions is to coordinate all three levels of governance for ensuring a whole-of-government approach to effectively reduce disaster risk, build resilience and manage complex response,” said Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Chief Executive of NDRRMA.
Indeed, strengthening coordination among the various levels of government, sectors, and stakeholders is a challenge that many countries face, especially in light of concurrent disasters with cascading impacts. As a Least Developed Country, Nepal has made several progressive steps in pursuit of a 25-year long-term development vision to transform the country into a developed nation by the year 2043. However, disasters like the Gorkha earthquake, recurrent floods and the emergence of new disasters like windstorms have the potential to roll back the country’s development gains.

New ITU study estimates US$ 428 billion are needed to connect the remaining 3 billion people to the Internet by 2030

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published Connecting Humanity - Assessing investment needs of connecting humanity to the Internet by 2030, a comprehensive new study that estimates the investment needed to achieve universal, affordable broadband connectivity for all humanity by the end of this decade.

Connecting Humanity posits that nearly US$ 428 billion is required to connect the remaining 3 billion people aged ten years and above to broadband Internet by 2030. It is an ambitious goal and a major infrastructure investment challenge.

"Meeting the investment necessary to bring every person online by the end of this decade will require an unprecedented and concerted effort from the public and private sectors," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "The new Connecting Humanity study led by ITU is the much-needed roadmap that will guide decision-makers on the journey towards accessible, affordable, reliable, and safe digital technologies and services for all."

The study examines costs associated with infrastructure needs, enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, and basic digital skills and local content at both the global and regional levels, as well as how to mobilize the unprecedented levels of financing needed to extend networks to unserved communities.

Over the past several months, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed different types of inequalities within and across countries and regions, including those related to quality of access, affordability and use of the Internet.

With so many essential services pushed online, there is a real and present danger that those without broadband Internet access could be left ever further behind. Hence assessing investment requirements to reach affordable universal connectivity is important to any country concerned with their ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to ITU, over 12% of the global unconnected population live in remote, rural locations where traditional networks are not easily accessible, most of them in Africa and South Asia. This connectivity gap is exacerbated by the gender digital divide. Across the globe, more men than women use the Internet: only 48% of women as opposed to 58% of men.

Whereas in some regions bridging the connectivity gap predominantly means upgrading existing coverage and capacity sites, nearly half of the required radio access network (RAN) infrastructure investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia/Pacific will be greenfield, the new study says.

"While this is an ambitious aim, it is in no way an unachievable one," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. "It is my hope that, as part of ITU's Connect 2030 Agenda efforts, this major new ITU assessment will provide clear, coherent evidence-based guidance for countries that will help accelerate efforts to reach unconnected communities, so that equality of opportunity is finally within reach of all."

Broadband Commission calls on world leaders to prioritize universal connectivity as fundamental to sustainable development & global recovery

Universal broadband access is the vital catalyst needed to drive global economic recovery and accelerate lacklustre progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new report released by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly underscored humanity's growing reliance on digital networks for business continuity, employment, education, commerce, banking, healthcare, and a whole host of other essential services. Yet today, almost half the global population has still never accessed the internet, and hundreds of millions more struggle with slow, costly and unreliable connections, often through remote locations like internet cafés.

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development's 2020 State of Broadband report, released at the Commission's 10th anniversary meeting earlier today, includes a rallying call to world leaders and heads of industry to place universal broadband connectivity at the very forefront of global recovery and sustainable development efforts.

The ​State of Broadband 2020: Tackling Digital Inequalities, A Decade for Action, highlights stark disparities in access to high-speed connectivity that have prevented billions of adults and children from benefiting from remote working, learning and communication. The report also takes stock of progress made in expanding access to and adoption of broadband infrastructure and services, and achieving the Commission's seven 2025 advocacy targets.

Paul Kagame, Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission and President of Rwanda said: ​​"​The first decade of the Broadband Commission has made a real impact by highlighting the transformational power of universal access to high-speed internet connectivity and smartphones. Ideas that seemed futuristic ten years ago, are now mainstream. The next decade will be about using digital tools to speed up the recovery from the Covid pandemic and make up some of the lost ground on the SDGs." ​

Carlos Slim Helú, President of the Carlos Slim Foundation and Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission, said: “Digital technologies are offering services that are creating big changes. Regulators and governments should be aware of the vital importance for society and development that telecom networks play, and that high taxes, spectrum charges and regulation are barriers to digital inclusion. Today our challenge is to look for universal connectivity and to make it available for countries and people. Broadband Connectivity is the bridge to move to economic development and welfare." ​

“Leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline, now more than ever before," said Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' specialized agency for information and communication technology (ICT), and Co-Vice Chair of the Commission. “Increasing and coordinating ICT infrastructure investments will be instrumental, not only in connecting the 3.6 billion people still offline, but also in driving the development of new technologies central to the digital economy."

“Digital technology could be the tool we need for human-centred emancipation. But to play this role, it needs our expertise and cooperation because we need to pool all of our resources if we are to rise to the challenge of connectivity and competencies," said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “In my view, this is the significance of the two Working Groups co-chaired by UNESCO. These documents published today focus on two crucial questions: school connectivity and the promotion of reliable, quality information."

According to latest ITU data, overall global Internet user penetration stands at 53.6%. That figure drops to 47% in developing countries, and to just 19.1% in the world's Least Developed Countries (LDCs), falling well below the Broadband Commission's advocacy Target 3 of broadband Internet user penetration of 75% worldwide, 65% in developing countries and 35% in LDCs by 2025.

UN maritime agency hit by cyber attack

The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations arm that regulates global shipping, said its London headquarters has been hit by a cyberattack that brought down its website and internal web-based services.

The incident disclosed a security breach that the agency categorized as a 'sophisticated cyber-attack' against its IT systems, was discovered and impacted the IMO public website and other web-based services, the UN agency said in a press release.

The hack was the latest in what appear to be a increasing number of cyberattacks on companies and organizations around the world this year. It follows a malware attack that hit containership company CMA CGM SA last weekend, crippling the French carrier’s booking and electronic communications network.

“The interruption of web-based services was caused by a sophisticated cyber-attack against the Organization’s IT systems that overcame robust security measures in place.” continues the statement.

IMO did not share technical details about the attack, the Secretariat is working with international security experts to identify the source of the attack, and further enhance the security of its infrastructure.

It is unclear if the IMO was hit by ransomware, a website defacement, or its website was used for a watering hole attack, a type of attack where hackers host malicious code on the IMO website in an attempt to trick IMO members and visitors into downloading and infecting themselves with malware.

Study for the creation of a national capabilities assessment framework

ENISA, the EU Agency for cybersecurity, held a workshop to validate the results of the study for the creation of a national capabilities assessment framework together with the EU Member States and related stakeholders. By assessing their National Cybersecurity Strategy objectives both at strategic and at operational level, Member States will be able to possibly enhance existing and build new cybersecurity capabilities. The purpose of the framework is to help Member States perform a self-assessment of their level of maturity. Other benefits include:

  • Identification of elements missing within the strategy;
  • Establish a history of lessons learned;
  • Referencing best practices;
  • Generate credibility and showing transparency for the public, National and international stakeholders and partners.

Sixty participants coming from academia, EU institutions, National Authorities, Ministries, and CSIRTs attended the online workshop. They were all actively engaged in the assessment and validation of the proposed report, which will be published later.

Members of the Hellenic Ministry of Digital Governance and of the Ministry of Justice and Security in the Netherlands also intervened. Each of them gave a short presentation on the recent NCSS efforts conducted in Greece and in the Netherlands respectively. They also shared the main challenges they face as well as good practices and lessons learned.

The representatives identified the following challenges and lessons learned:

  • Most resources tend to be dedicated to the planning and implementation phase. While obviously important, this may lead to a lack of coordination and organisation in the monitoring and evaluation phase of the strategy.
  • The strategy should provide explicit ownership and accountability for the measures identified to reach the objectives. This is not currently the case.
  • Clarifying relations between objectives, measures, resources and expected outputs of the next national strategy will be essential in order to re-structure the policy theory.
  • Cybersecurity is a domain where information is highly confidential and not easily distributed. This is why it is crucial for EU Member States to have common tools and processes based on the shared experience.

Background on National Cybersecurity Strategies

In line with its strategic objectives, the European Agency for Cybersecurity, (ENISA) supports the efforts of Member States in the area of NCSS by:

  • Supporting cybersecurity as an integral part of national policies through the development of guidelines on the NCSS lifecycle and through analysis of existing strategies to outline good practices. The Good Practice Guide on NCSS published in 2016 is one of them.
  • Supports cutting-edge competencies and capabilities through performing deep dives on specific national strategic objectives, such as the publication on the Good practices in Innovation. This can also be done by developing online tools to support the uptake of lessons learned and good practices. Examples of such tools are the NCSS evaluation tool and the NCSS Interactive Map.
  • Empowering and engaging Member States through community building by maintaining an experts group on NCSS and by fostering cooperation and exchange of good practices between MS. Publications on effective collaborative models for PPPs and ISACs are good examples of such effort.

Covid-19 Sparks Upward Trend in Cybercrime

Europol’s 2020 cybercrime report updates on the latest trends and the current impact of cybercrime within the EU and beyond.

So much has changed since Europol published last year’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA). The global COVID-19 pandemic that hit every corner of the world forced us to reimagine our societies and reinvent the way we work and live. During the lockdown, we turned to the internet for a sense of normality: shopping, working and learning online at a scale never seen before. It is in this new normal that Europol publishes its 7th annual IOCTA. The IOCTA seeks to map the cybercrime threat landscape and understand how law enforcement responds to it. Although the COVID-19 crisis showed us how criminals actively take advantage of society at its most vulnerable, this opportunistic behaviour of criminals should not overshadow the overall threat landscape. In many cases, COVID-19 has enhanced existing problems.

CROSS-CUTTING CRIME
Social engineering and phishing remain an effective threat to enable other types of cybercrime. Criminals use innovative methods to increase the volume and sophistication of their attacks, and inexperienced cybercriminals can carry out phishing campaigns more easily through crime as-a-service. Criminals quickly exploited the pandemic to attack vulnerable people; phishing, online scams and the spread of fake news became an ideal strategy for cybercriminals seeking to sell items they claim will prevent or cure COVID-19.

Encryption continues to be a clear feature of an increasing number of services and tools. One of the principal challenges for law enforcement is how to access and gather relevant data for criminal investigations. The value of being able to access data of criminal communication on an encrypted network is perhaps the most effective illustration of how encrypted data can provide law enforcement with crucial leads beyond the area of cybercrime.

MALWARE REIGNS SUPREME
Ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated, targeting specific organisations in the public and private sector through victim reconnaissance. While the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an increase in cybercrime, ransomware attacks were targeting the healthcare industry long before the crisis. Moreover, criminals have included another layer to their ransomware attacks by threatening to auction off the comprised data, increasing the pressure on the victims to pay the ransom. Advanced forms of malware are a top threat in the EU: criminals have transformed some traditional banking Trojans into modular malware to cover more PC digital fingerprints, which are later sold for different needs.

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE MATERIAL CONTINUES TO INCREASE
The main threats related to online child abuse exploitation have remained stable in recent years, however detection of online child sexual abuse material saw a sharp spike at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. Offenders keep using a number of ways to hide this horrifying crime, such as P2P networks, social networking platforms and using encrypted communications applications. Dark web communities and forums are meeting places where participation is structured with affiliation rules to promote individuals based on their contribution to the community, which they do by recording and posting their abuse of children, encouraging others to do the same. Livestream of child abuse continues to increase, becoming even more popular than usual during the COVID-19 crisis when travel restrictions prevented offenders from physically abusing children. In some cases, video chat applications in payment systems are used which becomes one of the key challenges for law enforcement as this material is not recorded.

PAYMENT FRAUD: SIM SWAPPING A NEW TREND
SIM swapping, which allows perpetrators to take over accounts, is one of the new trends in this year’s IOCTA. As a type of account takeover, SIM swapping provides criminals access to sensitive user accounts. Criminals fraudulently swap or port victims’ SIMs to one in the criminals’ possession in order to intercept the one-time password step of the authentication process.

CRIMINAL ABUSE OF THE DARK WEB
In 2019 and early 2020 there was a high level of volatility on the dark web. The lifecycle of dark web market places has shortened and there is no clear dominant market that has risen over the past year. Tor remains the preferred infrastructure, however criminals have started to use other privacy-focused, decentralised marketplace platforms to sell their illegal goods. Although this is not a new phenomenon, these sorts of platforms have started to increase over the last year. OpenBazaar is noteworthy, as certain threats have emerged on the platform over the past year such as COVID-19-related items during the pandemic.

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