EU to search out cyber criminals
Remote searches of suspect computers will form part of an EU plan to tackle hi-tech crime.
The five-year action plan will take steps to combat the growth in cyber theft and the machines used to spread spam and other malicious programs.
It will also encourage better sharing of data among European police forces to track down and prosecute criminals.
Europol will co-ordinate the investigative work and also issue alerts about cyber crime sprees.
The five-year plan won the backing of the EU ministers at a meeting which also granted 300,000 euros (£250,000) to Europol to create the system to pool crime reports and issue alerts about emerging threats.
The ministerial meeting also backed the anti-cyber crime strategy that will see the creation of cross-border investigation teams and sanction the use of virtual patrols to police some areas of the net.
Other "practical measures" include encouraging better sharing of information between police forces in member nations and private companies on investigative methods and trends.
In particular the strategy aims to tackle the trade in images of children being sexually abused. In a statement outlining the strategy the EU claimed "half of all internet crime involves the production, distribution and sale of child pornography".
Forces will also take part in "remote searches" and patrol online to track down criminals. The EU said controls were in place to ensure that data protection laws were not breached as this information was gathered and shared.
"The strategy encourages the much needed operational cooperation and information exchange between the Member States," said EC vice-president Jacques Barrot in a statement.
"If the strategy is to make the fight against cyber crime more efficient, all stakeholders have to be fully committed to its implementation," he added.