Australia is intensifying co-operation with Asia on cyber-crime amid growing criminal threats and the need to boost regional commercial security.
The agreement signed in Bangkok this week means Australia is now working in tandem with Thailand, Singapore and China on issues of cybercrime and security. Australia’s Ambassador for Cybercrime Tobias Feakin, in Bangkok on an official visit, told AAP co-operation was vital in the face of growing challenges posed by cyber-criminal networks in Asia. “Criminals and nefarious actors can adapt and absorb all (this information) so much quicker than governments. “So if we’re not talking about it, sharing best practice and keeping on the move as well then we will soon find ourselves behind by quite a margin,” he said. Mr Feakin held talks with senior leadership of the Thai Royal Police, national security and foreign affairs officials with Australia to provide support in “cyber-crime digital forensic development”. Australia already co-operates with Thailand through the Royal Thai Police and Office of Narcotics Control Board, based on threats by transnational criminals, including Australian biker gangs linked to drug trafficking of amphetamine type stimulants into Australia. Thailand is also a base for securities fraud operators, known as boiler room share scam, where foreign expatriates, including British and American, target Australia and New Zealand investors scamming off thousands of dollars in fake online investments. Mr Feakin said co-operation was directed to “upskilling the digital forensics capability of the Royal Thai Police” to ensure evidence was credible when presented at court. “To get the evidence, how you secure it, to a degree that it is admissible in a court and then, what is your investigative processes to actually try and fine the individual or group who may be responsible,” he said. Officials told AAP support to Thai police was a “cornerstone of digital forensics about capturing electronic evidence on various devices, how to process and extract data”. They said increasingly transnational crime investigations centred on the use of digital media for communications, storing of information by organised crime gangs. The agreement with Thailand comes after the recent signing of a pact between Australia and Singapore on cyber security including information sharing, training and joint exercises in safeguarding critical information infrastructure. In April, an agreement with China was to enhance cyber security co-operation, after Australia pressed China on issues of cyber enabled intellectual property theft. “What you saw through the agreement that we signed with China was an acknowledgement that it needs to be a key part of discussions together,” Mr Feakin said. “China is a huge economic partner. There are some areas, there are some differences. “That we got to a point of signing an agreement which said we agree to not conduct cyber enabled intellectual property theft – I think it’s a good point.”