New Czech anti-cybercrime unit seeks to curb online attacks and fraud

Established at the start of 2023, the division against online crimes targets the sharp rise of cybercrime in Czechia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.08.2023 12:17:00 (updated on 22.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Cybercrime in the Czech Republic has significantly increased, with nearly 10,000 virtual crimes reported last year – reflecting a nearly 100 percent year-on-year increase according to police statistics.

A special new unit that has charged 19 people

This trend is projected to continue this year, with experts anticipating even higher numbers, iDnes reports. To combat this growing threat, the government established the National Center for Combating Terrorism, Extremism, and Cybercrime (NCTEKK) at the beginning of the year, focusing on major cybercrime cases, including ransomware attacks on hospitals and state institutions. The new unit has already initiated criminal proceedings in several cases and recruited personnel to address the mounting challenges.

The NCTEKK has announces that it has tackled around 50 cases from January to August, leading to criminal prosecutions in 10 instances and 19 individuals facing charges, along with the recovery of almost CZK 500,000. The center, which operates under the guidance of Martin Vondrášek, president of Czech Police, has filled 135 out of its 172 positions, reflecting a commitment to expanding its capabilities.

Transitioning from the division of the National Center against Organized Crime (NCOZ), the new unit has taken charge of ongoing cybercrime cases previously managed by NCOZ staff. This transition has demonstrated success, with Vondrášek emphasizing the center's efficacy in both concluding existing investigations and initiating new ones. While it's still early to assess the performance of the NCTEKK, Chief State Attorney Igor Stříž emphasized that information is being gathered from the public prosecutor's office for a more comprehensive evaluation in due course.

Anti-terrorist measures

Beyond cybercrime, the NCTEKK's mandate extends to handling cases related to extremism and terrorism. The unit's capabilities were recently in the spotlight when detectives arrested a criminal gang involved in acquiring and modifying illegal firearms. Additionally, the NCTEKK is actively engaged in cases related to the war in Ukraine, including the investigation of a Czech volunteer accused of misconduct in the conflict area.

The NCZOS stated in its annual report for 2022 that pro-Russian hacker organizations began to arrange strikes last year against targets in democratic nations amid Russia's war against Ukraine.

As the Czech Republic grapples with an escalating wave of cybercrime, the establishment of the NCTEKK marks a strategic response to counter these evolving threats. The unit's dedication to investigating and addressing these multifaceted challenges is evident in its recruitment efforts and ongoing casework, underscoring the commitment to safeguarding digital and national security.

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