Project Trace

Training Southeast Asian countries to exploit online data in counter-terrorism investigations.

Timeframe: August 2017 to February 2021

Budget: EUR 2 million

Donor: Global Affairs Canada

Project summary

Project Trace works to reinforce counter-terrorism capacity and expertise in the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Initially a three-year initiative (2017-2020), it has been extended until February 2021.

The Project targets officers from national counter-terrorism units, intelligence and investigation officers from cyber units, and any other national agencies responsible for investigating and combating the use of Internet for terrorism purposes.

Project Trace has equipped participants with the skills, tools and methodologies needed in order to gather and exploit information from online platforms, including social media, for counter-terrorism investigations.

The first basic training course of the project was held in Bangladesh, focusing on analytical methods to counter the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
The first basic training course of the project was held in Bangladesh, focusing on analytical methods to counter the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes.
Participants in the course learned how to use specialized analytical software.
Participants in the course learned how to use specialized analytical software.
Officers from cybercrime and counter-terrorism units and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in 10 countries took part in the course.
Officers from cybercrime and counter-terrorism units and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in 10 countries took part in the course.
Following the basic training course in February in Bangladesh, participants were able to build their skills and knowledge at the advanced training session, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in July 2018.
Following the basic training course in February in Bangladesh, participants were able to build their skills and knowledge at the advanced training session, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in July 2018.
The advanced training course covered topics including human rights, legal and gender considerations, evidence collection standards and open source and social media investigation techniques.
The advanced training course covered topics including human rights, legal and gender considerations, evidence collection standards and open source and social media investigation techniques.
Table-top exercises enable participants to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have acquired at previous Trace training sessions.
Table-top exercises enable participants to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have acquired at previous Trace training sessions.
In a simulated counter-terrorism investigation scenario, participants carried out online research and conducted strategic, operational and tactical levels of analysis.
In a simulated counter-terrorism investigation scenario, participants carried out online research and conducted strategic, operational and tactical levels of analysis.
Participants at the two-day table-top exercise, held at INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore in August 2018.
Participants at the two-day table-top exercise, held at INTERPOL’s Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore in August 2018.
October 2018 saw the conclusion of the Project’s training curriculum on countering the use of the Internet for terrorism purposes. Attended by 15 participants, the one-week train-the-trainer session was held in Vientiane, Laos.
October 2018 saw the conclusion of the Project’s training curriculum on countering the use of the Internet for terrorism purposes. Attended by 15 participants, the one-week train-the-trainer session was held in Vientiane, Laos.
Participants learned how to properly transfer knowledge to their peers and colleagues and deliver training in line with the Organization’s standards, in order to increase the Project’s reach and sustainability.
Participants learned how to properly transfer knowledge to their peers and colleagues and deliver training in line with the Organization’s standards, in order to increase the Project’s reach and sustainability.
Project TRACE Workshop
Project TRACE Workshop
Project TRACE training
Project TRACE training
Project Trace Option 2
Project Trace photo
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Project activities

Training activities are conducted over three cycles, each targeting a different group of participants.

Each cycle comprises the following activities:

  • One-week Basic Training on Countering the Use of Internet for Terrorism Purposes;
  • One-week Advanced Training on Countering the Use of Internet for Terrorism Purposes;
  • Software donation and specialized software training;
  • Train-the-trainer session;
  • Table-top exercise to provide participants with hands-on experience.

Five objectives underpin each of the activities:

  • Understanding how open source intelligence (OSINT) and social media intelligence (SOCMINT) streams can be used as part of criminal investigations;
  • Understanding how to use INTERPOL’s policing capabilities, including the different types of INTERPOL databases and notices;
  • Understanding the correct techniques for capturing and securing digital evidence;
  • Using charting techniques as a tool to assist in analysis;
  • Understanding how to request information from third parties (INTERPOL, other law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers, telecom companies, etc.).

Online training

Despite the global coronavirus pandemic, Project Trace has continued to deliver training to the region through two Small Private Online courses.

The first – the E-Evidence Bootcamp – ran for eight weeks from June to August 2020. The course demystifies the concepts behind electronic evidence and enables participants to better determine the authenticity, reliability and integrity of digital evidence.  

A total of 49 law enforcement officials completed this third iteration of the course, which was originally developed in 2019 in collaboration with University College Dublin - Digital Forensic Investigation Research Laboratory (DigitalFIRE).

The second online course – Fundamentals of Open Source Investigations – has been newly developed by the Project Trace team. It increases the skill and ability of law enforcement investigators to conduct open source investigations in a safe and efficient manner. The course ran over six weeks, from October to December 2020, with a total of 107 participants.

Both courses form part of INTERPOL’s Virtual Academy, a digital learning platform that comprises recorded lectures, self-paced study material, live-webinars, and exercises.

Project oversight

A Steering Committee, composed of one representative of each beneficiary country, oversees the implementation of the project. Its role is to advise on and endorse the various project activities so as to maximize participation and ensure sustainable outcomes.