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Police use Google Ads to combat cybercrime

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Nederland - Finding information on the internet about executing a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack and other forms of cybercrime is child's play. A simple Google search can reveal ways to carry out a DDoS attack. Law enforcement invests a lot to prevent young people from engaging in cybercrime. For example, law enforcement invests in Google Ads to warn about the dangers and consequences of cybercrime. ‘But we cannot do this alone’, says program director cybercrime Theo van der Plas. ‘We need tech companies, such as Google, to tackle cybercrime worldwide.’

The Netherlands police have been structurally using Google Ads since 2021 to prevent cybercrime. Young people who searched for terms related to cybercrime through Google Search received a prevent message from the police as a Google ad. The results are substantial: the police ads aimed at DDoS have been shown more than 360000 times since 2021 and the ad has been clicked more than 27000 times. The costs for the Dutch police are significant, the police have spent more than €60.000,-.

International collaboration
The Netherlands police together with international law enforcement agencies have initiated joint Google Ads campaigns to prevent persons who search for cybercrime related terms from proceeding to carry out for example DDoS attacks. These different campaigns resulted in significant results as well.

The campaigns resulted in more than 200000 impressions and 35000 clicks. The costs for these campaigns were also substantial, more than €35.000,- was spent by international law enforcement.

The results of the different ad campaigns convincingly show that Google Search is used to look for terms related to cybercrime. It is concerning that the search engine also shows results that point to different providers of software to execute a DDoS attack. It is therefore a relevant platform to reach young people with a prevent message about the dangers and consequences of committing cybercrime.

Theo van der Plas, program director cybercrime, believes that high-tech companies such as Google also have a responsibility to protect young people from committing cybercrime. 'Last year, 15 percent of Dutch people became victims of online crime. The social and financial damage is enormous. The Dutch National Police does a lot to prevent both offenders and victims of cybercrime. But I believe that high-tech companies, that have a major social impact and that facilitates this form of crime, should also take responsibility.'

Google earns a lot from its search engine, so it is logical that the company also invests in the prevention of criminal activities that are facilitated through its search engine, says Van der Plas. 'By alerting visitors to illegal activities and by removing criminal sites. Now, law enforcement buys ads from Google to prevent cybercrime, while Google Search also provides information that leads to providers of cybercrime.'

As shown here, investing in offender prevention related to cybercrime is crucial for our society. Cybercrime has become a widespread threat that not only affects individuals and companies, but can also undermine the stability of entire societies. Tech companies play a central role in our modern society, as their products and services often form the basis of our digital lives. By investing in offender prevention, tech companies prevent misuse of their platforms and take their digital responsibility.