Analysis of how Serbian institutions function in the fight against organized cybercrime

This study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the fight against cybercrime in Serbia, as well as understanding of the links between organized and cybercrime. The study analyses data obtained from strategic documents of the Republic of Serbia, as well as legislation that pertains to cybercrime or is otherwise closely related to this field. In addition to this, the study also involved interviews with experts in this field. It ought to be noted that most institutions failed to respond when invited to participate in these interviews, including the main actor in the fight against cybercrime, the Ministry of Interior (Ministarstvo unutrašnjih poslova, MUP).

The main finding of this study is that, from 2005 to the present, Serbia did much to regulate the legislative framework in this area, the most significant developments being the formation of a special police unit and a unit within the prosecutor’s office for combating cybercrime. Although experts agree that this area is now well regulated in terms of legislation, in practice there remain numerous issues that will be covered in more detail in this paper.

Cybercrime is a form of criminal activity that is continually expanding, and that is one of the most dangerous security challenges in the world today. Although it brings with it many benefits, the rapid development of information technology and its increasingly significant presence in all spheres of contemporary society also contributes to the spread of cybercrime. There has been a noticeable increase in cyber-related crimes in Serbia. The Ministry of Interior’s Information Booklet states that 622 crimes in this area were committed in 2018, while in 2019 this figure was 946. The key reasons for the rise in this kind of criminal activity lie in the increased access to the Internet and increasing numbers of people using social media, mobile devices, and other applications that enable various forms of communication. Detecting and investigating these kinds of crimes can be difficult because the crimes can be committed in different geographical locations in real time. In other words, the perpetrator, the victim, and the means of committing the crime can be in different parts of the world at the same time. As with other forms of criminal activity, cybercrime can also involve a level of organization. This is best illustrated through the example of one of the largest criminal organizations on the Internet, Infraud. This organization was discovered and dismantled in 2018, as part of Shadow Web, an international police operation. The Serbian police participated in Shadow Web, which resulted in 36 suspects being charged – including one Serbian citizen.

This paper consists of three sections. The first of these analyses the legislative and institutional framework in Serbia, as well as the frameworks governing the forms of international, regional, and national cooperation in which Serbia participates. The second part of the paper examines links between cybercrime and organized crime. Finally, the paper provides recommendations for tackling the issues that have emerged in practice.

The views expressed in this publication do not represent those of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States of America or of their partners.