As instances of cybercrime continue to increase, policing authorities across Europe are faced with the difficult task of formulating viable investigation procedures that clearly establish what happens when fraud is committed online. A recently completed EU project has risen to the challenge, developing a set of 'computer forensic tools' capable of collecting, analysing, storing and presenting electronic evidence against claims of fraudulent transactions, computer hacking and viruses, as well as other high tech crimes. The CTOSE project received 1.14 million euro under the information society technologies (IST) programme of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5), and involved researchers and telecommunication experts from France, Germany, Belgium, and UK. Commenting on the value of the tools, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: 'Cybercrime hides behind our computer screen, and in the wires of global communication networks and services. 'This innovative methodology, developed by the Commission, will not only help combat cybercrime, it will also increase user confidence in carrying out secure transactions in everyday life,' he added. The tools include a cybercrime advisory tool (C*CAT), which tells an investigator the correct procedure to follow at each stage of the investigation, a legal advisor which explains the legal requirements necessary to ensure that evidence is reliable and legally obtained, and an 'XML specification tool', which helps pass evidence securely from one part of the investigation chain to the next. The package also offers a 'demonstrator' tool, illustrating in a hands-on, graphical way, the processes to follow for three common scenarios of disputed online crime. To ensure the widespread deployment of the methodology and tools developed, the pan-European project consortium is currently looking at the possibility of setting up a research network and a foundation to further develop the project results.
Belgium, Germany, France, United Kingdom