Posted on May 29, 2019 at 6:32 AM
According to NOS, large amounts of child pornography and stolen data are stored by dozens of foreign hosting companies on Dutch servers. Network hosting companies together with the Public Prosecution Service are now working together to address this problem which may transform in a public health issue.
Netherlands is very well-known for its well-developed digital infrastructure and has unintentionally become a popular option for cybercriminals. A turnover of billions of euros every year is accounted by the estimated number of 2 thousand hosting companies which are active in the Netherlands. A huge amount of international resellers and renters rent space from those companies to run websites and to store a large amount of data.
“Bulletproof hosts” paid in cryptocurrency by criminal clientele
Among all the network hosting companies existing in the Netherlands, there are also the so-called “bulletproof hosts” who focus specifically on finding and offering space to a criminal clientele for phishing, sending spam, storing child pornography, and many other things. Bulletproof hosts find their clients by advertising their services on underground forums where they promise their customers to offer anonymity in exchange for huge amounts of money often paid in cryptocurrency.
Bulletproof hosts are often difficult to be prosecuted because, as the cybercrime prosecutor Martijn Egberts explains, one European regulation states that companies cannot be held responsible for the content they are hosting.
Addressing the problem of illegal content
The Public Prosecutor and Dutch hosting companies have addressed the need for a change with a new guideline to keep out all illegal content. According to the new guideline, companies who do not adhere to its regulations will be prosecuted more quickly and easily.
Network and hosting companies connected with the Trade association for the Netherlands’ digital infrastructure are teaming up and have recently agreed to do their best for removing all illegal content from their servers by putting pressure on their customers to remove it. Also, if there is any evidence that one company hosts illegal content and does not take any measure to remove it immediately, those companies will end up being investigated by the authorities.
The cybercrime prosecutor, Egberts claims that he puts great hope in the willingness of the network hosting companies from the industry to adhere to the initiative of removing illegal content and stop facilitating cybercriminals. He believes that companies who receive reports about child pornography but choose to look the other way and do not take action will be more easily held responsible for their actions.
The prosecutor has also underlined the seriousness of the problem by comparing it to money laundering considering that it is not punishable to have a huge amount of money in one’s pocket, but it may be a powerful indicator that there may be involvement in a crime.
Similarly, the network hosting companies in the Netherlands have the freedom to ignore illegal content stored on their servers, but this might indicate that those companies target an audience of customers involved with criminal offenses.