Portraits T.I.C. - Informatique

Interview with Emilie Philippe, Webdrone: AI powered cyber investigations

FOCUS #69 - Emilie Philippe, APAC Managing Director, Webdrone, shares with us about the cybercrime the company tackles and how it uses AI in its investigations.

Could you tell us about Webdrone and the cybercrimes you tackle?

Webdrone is the leader in cybercrime investigation software and services with 2 awards won in 2018 (Global awards anti-counterfeiting + Security Trophy of Brands & Products protection). Currently, more than 80 clients including top brands around the world use Webdrone to expose and fight online illicit trade. Founded by a team of former cybercrime and economic intelligence experts formerly from the French military police, the company is based in France, with offices in Singapore and the Philippines. Webdrone technology has been successfully used to solve critical cases over the world in many different domains such as counterfeiting of luxury and life products (foods, beverages, cosmetics, pharmacy, etc.), human and wildlife trafficking, investigating on fraud or the root of an event… Three concrete examples:

Fake medicines

Fake medicines are not only illegal drugs, it is a very important threat for health that kills hundreds of people every year. In addition, terrorists used it for financing their activities. A mission performed all over South East Asia detected and identified fake medicines vendors networks.

Illegal animal trafficking

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in illegal wildlife trade, threatening to overturn decades of conservation gains. Ivory estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons was seized in the 13 largest seizures of illegal ivory in 2011. Poaching threatens the last of our wild tigers that number around 3,890. Wildlife crime is a big business! Run by dangerous international Organized Crime Groups (OCG), wildlife and animal parts are trafficked much like illegal drugs and arms. The Webdrone platform has been used to monitor forums, market places and the darknet to both evaluate the traffic and detect its agents.

Compliance Due Diligence

More and more companies are attentive to deal with the good partner, to hire the correct person, to buy and merge with the company who which has no reputational issues (corruption, money-laundering, financing terrorism, fraud…) on the Market. High-level makers request us to investigate on the digital footprints of a person or a legal entity to assess the business opportunity or strategic hiring.


How are you using technology to fight cybercrime?

Webdrone’s team developed proprietary web (clear, deep and dark) crawling technology, investigatory logic and parsing algorithms. It is a flexible configuration system where a specific mission is defined based on the ontology, the goals (the targets to detect), the connectors (websites, marketplaces, forums, etc) and the extractors (information from textual document, images, video…). Data-driven investigation engines called ‘virtual drones’ are launched to crawl the Internet and collect the data.

The engine then recomputes in real time the best investigation plan and orchestrates the tasks. They act as a cyberinvestigator specialist but faster. The ‘virtual drones’ execute the investigation to find the documents, analyze and score them. If the information is interesting in the framework context of the mission, the extracted entities are returned to the investigation engine. At the end, the virtual drones draft links and map an unprecedented scope of online activities and criminal networks.


What are the costs of not doing enough to protect our business?

Clients are partners, they are trained to use Webdrone’s system directly and the expertise is shared. Some of them prefer to outsource their investigations to the Webdrone’s team who works closely to define the strategy, debrief the results found and provide recommendations. At the end, it is the same common goal, to fight against illegality and immorality.

The costs of not doing enough to protect businesses is to lose marketshares, to let the place to bad guys to sell untrusted products to your consumers, to not care on the future and let the Internet becomes a trashbin of fakes and immoralities… But the key cost is to affect the reputation of the company / individual built hardly during several years and which could be lost within few days.


Visit us at Singapore Interpol World booth 2nd 4th July 2019



Get your copy of FOCUS Magazine Issue 79: Moving Towards Smart Mobility