Prosecutor General's Office: additional measures will be taken to maintain a stable socio-political situation in the country and counter cyber threats

Under the chairmanship of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus Andrey Shved, a meeting of the republican coordination meeting on combating crime and corruption (hereinafter - Republican coordination meeting) was held in the Prosecutor General's Office.

On the agenda – issues of disclosure and investigation of crimes, related to protest activity; measures for the prevention, disclosure and investigation of crimes, committed using computer technologies, social networks and the global computer network Internet (hereinafter referred to as cybercrimes).

The meeting was attended by members of the Republican coordination meeting and prosecutors.

In his opening remarks, Andrey Shved said: “In pursuance of the orders of the Head of State the Prosecutor General’s Office, together with law enforcement and other state bodies has implemented a set of measures to ensure the rule of law and public safety during last year. The main attention was paid to the activity on identification and prosecution of the organizers and active participants of illegal protest actions, compensation of material damage caused by them, protection of the rights and interests of minors."

The participants of Republican coordination meeting analyzed the problematic issues of interdepartmental interaction while ensuring the rule of law in the framework of the criminal process, including the conduct of law enforcement intelligence-gathering activities and investigative actions. They discussed the results of the execution of acts of prosecutorial response, previously submitted to individual bodies, improvement of the coordination system, procedural guidance and control over the course of the investigation of criminal cases, related to protest activity.

Particular attention is paid to the work of law enforcement officers on the exchange of information, prevention of illegal actions and elimination of their consequences.

During the meeting, it was noted that not all interested parties have taken sufficient measures to compensate for material damage in the framework of administrative and criminal proceedings.

Regarding the second question, participants of Republican coordination meeting agreed that, in accordance with the Concept of Information Security in Belarus, significant work has been done on the legal regulation of the information space and the use of information and communication technologies, fight against crime in the information sphere.

However, recently a significant increase in the number of cybercrimes has been observed.

For reference. In 2020, 25,575 cybercrimes were registered, which is 2.4 times more than in 2019 (10,567). Their share in the total volume of registered crimes increased from 12% to 26.8%.

The highest rates of increase in these crimes were noted in Grodno (from 933 to 2,748, + 194.5%), Brest (from 1,101 to 3,124, + 183.7%), Vitebsk (from 1,133 to 3,023, or +166 , 8%) regions.

According to the opinion of participants of Republican coordination meeting, the increase of the total number of such criminal offenses is сaused by the increase of theft through the usage of computer technology (Article 212 of the Criminal Code) – from 8,075 to 23,587.

This year, the negative trend continued - the number of statements and reports on crimes of this category increased in all regions of the republic.

For reference. For January-February 2021, 4289 (1258) cybercrimes were registered, or + 240.9%. Their share in the total volume of registered crimes increased from 10.6% to 29.7%.

The conditions for such a development of events is determined by the penetration of information and communication technologies into all spheres of public relations, a significant number of Internet users, rapidly growing level of use of online services, globalization of a virtual criminal network, and insufficient level of digital literacy of population.

In recent years, the number of other crimes, committed using the Internet, has increased significantly.

Thus, the facts of dissemination of materials of extremist nature, disclosure of personal data of law enforcement officers, threats against them have become systemic.

An increase of the number of frauds, extortion, instances of the sale of narcotic drugs and a number of other crimes with application of the Internet has been recorded.

Most cybercrimes have been committed:

• remotely using Internet resources, technological and financial platforms (cryptocurrency wallets) outside the republic, as well as using special services that allowed illegal intruders to hide their data and the place of access to the Internet;

• from outside the territory of Belarus using access to the websites of banking institutions and accounts of private individuals -citizens of Belarus from foreign or anonymous IP-addresses;

• with the use of figureheads, on which bank payment cards are issued, subscriber numbers of mobile operators, postal deliveries.

Conditions that have contributed to cybercrime:

• availability on the Internet of specialized resources, including virus and spyware, for application in criminal purposes, as well as Internet forums and services, where methods and weapons of crime are discussed, services are provided on cashing in of money, malicious software is developed;

• the owners violated the rules of safe use of bank cards and Internet services (inadvertently disclosing information on the details of cards, privacy, used simple passwords to accounts in social networks with a low level of software and hardware protection).

In order to effectively counter cybercrimes and increase the level of interaction between law enforcement and other bodies, government and public organizations, the meeting participants developed a set of additional measures on:

• elimination of certain shortcomings in the activities of the bodies of inquiry and investigation;

• improvement of preventive work with the population, aimed at increasing population’s financial literacy;

• intensification of interaction with the media on coverage of the activities of the law enforcement bodies to prevent crimes;

• increase of level of professional training of employees;

• initiation of amendments to legislation in order to prevent illegal actions and increase the degree of protection of citizens;

• more active use of electronic forms of communication in international cooperation in the detection and investigation of cybercrimes.

Each interested ministry and department received specific instructions on conduction of organizational, managerial, practical, preventive, scientific and educational activities, including through strengthening international cooperation.

For reference. The trend of the last two years indicates a 2.5-fold increase in the number of requests from investigators on provision of legal assistance that has been sent to the competent justice institutions of foreign states, which is primarily associated with the increased frequency of cybercrimes.

At the end of the meeting, Andrey Shved, addressing the participants, focused his attention on the fact that “the issue is not in digital indicators, but in the measures that we are developing and will apply. They should be clear and specific. Now we all need to work together in order to achieve general result”.

Within the framework of the activity, Deputy Prosecutor General Gennady Dysko spoke with representatives of the media and informed them on the agenda of the meeting.

Photo: Prosecutor General's Office

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