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EU struggling to connect the criminal dots across the “dark web”

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – Policymakers and experts tracking cyber-crime gathered in Brussels on 20 to discuss European policing in the digital era and to hear about the latest criminal developments. The news was not encouraging. Rob Wainwright, Europol’s departing director, started off the debate by describing the results of a transatlantic sting launched in late 2016 that dismantled a huge international criminal infrastructure platform known as Avalanche. A stunning testament to organised crime’s increasingly automated and industrial nature, Avalanche launched botnet-led malware cyberattacks that caused EUR 6 million of losses in Germany, and hundreds of millons of euros worldwide. Yet in the operation that took it down, only five individuals were arrested. “We had 3600 organised crime groups in Europe three years ago,” he said. “Now we have 5000.” The main take-away of the debate: that…

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EU leaders’ decisions augur big developments for European defence policy, with wider implications for other sectors as well

By PATRICK STEPHENSON and BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After decades of procrastination, national leaders at their 22-23 June summit here took decisions that now set the stage for the EU’s entry into the defence field, though any talk of an imminent “European” army is fantasy. Nonetheless, important policy proposals by the European Commission were approved. The member states themselves finally agreed to finance their diverse battlegroups to boost the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP), for example, while approving plans – far more radical – to allow self-selected EU countries to shift into “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO) in defence. But these were just some of the approved measures. An interesting coda to these decisions will be their impact on the EU’s...