The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, comprised of 10 countries and a population exceeding 650 million people, is currently experiencing the most rapid digital market growth globally. As technology continues to permeate daily life in the region, the prevalence and impact of cybercrime will surge dramatically.
To combat this growing threat, INTERPOL established the ASEAN Cyber Capability Desk in July 2018. In 2020, the desk was renamed the ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk to more accurately reflect its role and significance in the region.
What is the role of the ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk?
The ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk (ASEAN Desk) offers intelligence development, investigative support, and operational coordination to help countries within the region combat cybercrime. It disseminates Cyber Activity Reports to ASEAN countries, providing intelligence on cyberthreats including malware infections, business email compromise fraud, cryptojacking and web skimming attacks.
The ASEAN Desk enables law enforcement agencies to share information such as best practices and cyber threats in the region, and connects law enforcement with relevant private sector partners and other entities that can provide valuable data or support.
It also empowers communities in the ASEAN region to protect themselves from becoming victims of cybercrime by promoting good cyber hygiene.
The ASEAN Desk coordinates multi-jurisdictional operations targeting the latest cyberthreats. Examples include Operation Night Fury (2019-2020) and Operation Goldfish Alpha (2019).
Operation Night Fury
Operation Night Fury led to the arrest of three individuals in Indonesia who were running a malicious campaign targeting e-commerce websites. Malware was used to steal customers’ payment card details and personal information and send them to cybercriminals to be exploited.
With the help of cybersecurity firm Group-IB, hundreds of infected e-commerce websites were identified, and the ASEAN Desk disseminated Cyber Activity Reports to the affected countries, which highlighted the threat to support their national investigations.
The ASEAN Desk provided technical and operational support that resulted in the arrest of three suspects who were using the stolen payment card details to buy luxury items and resell them for a profit.
Operation Goldfish Alpha
Operation Goldfish Alpha, which sought to combat cryptojacking in the ASEAN region, led to a 78 percent reduction in the number of infected devices.
The operation involved cybercrime investigators and experts from police and national Computer Emergency Response Teams across the 10 ASEAN countries, who worked together to locate and patch infected MikroTik routers, which were found to be vulnerable to exploitation. Intelligence was developed and disseminated via Cyber Activity Reports to the affected member countries.
Private sector partners including Cyber Defense Institute and Trend Micro provided the participating countries with guidelines for patching infected routers and advice on preventing future infections.
As the digital market in the ASEAN region continues to grow rapidly, the threat of cybercrime also increases. To address this challenge, INTERPOL established the ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk to help countries in the region combat cybercrime. Through coordinating multi-jurisdictional operations such as Operation Night Fury and Operation Goldfish Alpha, the ASEAN Desk has assisted in arresting cybercriminals and reducing the number of infected devices.