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South Australia strengthens defence against cybercrime

South Australia recently launched a beefed-up Financial and Cybercrime Investigation Branch (FCIB) in order to combat the rising threat in the community.

According to a recent press release, The Branch, which includes the Major Fraud Investigation Section, has been renamed the Serious and Organised Financial Crime Investigation Section (SOFCIS).

The Changes

This was boosted by 13 new staff, thereby taking the total working in the Section to 90.

This has come about from an operational restructure which follows a full review by the South Australia Police (SAPOL).

Additionally, this new section supports the implementation of the South Australia Police Cybercrime Strategy 2018-2020.

SOFCIS continues to provide a specialist fraud investigational response but also widens its focus to proactively target professional facilitators who are assisting those involved in serious and organised crime, including money laundering.

The rapid growth of technology in everyday life has impacted upon law enforcement with most crimes now having a technology element, increasing the demand for digital forensic services.

In response to this, the Electronic Crime Section has been split to create two specialist areas. These are the Digital Evidence Section and the Cybercrime Investigation Section.

The cybercrime section will be supported by intelligence and crime prevention personnel, including two new Cybercrime Training and Prevention Officers.

A focus on community engagement is also expected to provide an increased capability to detect, disrupt, prevent, investigate and prosecute cyber criminals.

Meanwhile, ten new sworn officers have been recruited to the Digital Evidence Section, supplementing seven specialist positions recruited in 2018.

Why is this important?

Minister for Police, Correctional Services and Emergency Services Corey Wingard said this would provide SAPOL with the ability to respond to an evolving criminal environment.

According to the Minister, “Nefarious people are increasingly using technology to commit crimes, so it is important SAPOL are well-equipped to counter that threat.”

Additionally, the Assistant Commissioner shared that this is about positioning SAPOL for the future and the growing trend for phones, devices and computers to be used to facilitate crime or used to assist in a crime.

This is the plan for the future with FCIB able to assist other areas of SAPOL with investigations, data extraction and specialist digital work.

Fighting online child pornography

Meanwhile, new laws cracking down on people who distribute or help distribute child pornography online have now passed State Parliament.

As reported, the new Statutes Amendment (Child Exploitation and Encrypted Material) Bill 2017 establishes new offences ensuring those who manage or promote websites featuring child exploitation material (CEM) – even if they are not technically in possession of it – can be prosecuted.

The legislation also makes it illegal to provide information that would help someone avoid apprehension for an offence involving child exploitation material.

Additional powers for police

Under the new laws, police will have additional power to access encrypted or password protected material. This will be done by compelling suspects to provide passwords, fingerprints, facial or retinal scans.

They can also hold suspects for up to 4 hours if they believe the person has the capacity to erase or remotely remove such data.

South Australia will join Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and the Commonwealth, which already have the power to compel the provision of a password or other means of access to encrypted or restricted material.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman shared that while South Australia’s existing laws address the possession and distribution of CEM, they did not capture the conduct of administering, establishing, operating and promoting websites and online networks.

It is important that response is made to the dramatic technological advances and the new ways in which crimes, especially the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, are being committed.

The internet and rapid advances in technology bring obvious benefits for modern society. However, there is a dark side to these advances.

The ease and manner in which people can communicate is being used for sophisticated criminal purposes.

There is a need to keep pace with these changes in technology, especially with the new ways people are using these tools for their vile offending.

The new laws will ensure that the law enforcement agencies and the courts have the tools to deal with such criminal behaviour.

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