Claim made that cyber crime investigation is not proper police work

A study has revealed a claim that cyber crime is not classed as proper police work.

The study by the department of Criminology at the University of Leicester questions whether cyber crime as a criminal activity is taken as seriously as it should be. The report ‘public policing and internet crime' assesses the police's ability and willingness to investigate cyber crime, and highlights problems of cooperation and law enforcement across geographical boundaries and legal jurisdictions.

Professor Yvonne Jewkes from the University of Leicester claimed that as crimes perpetrated via an internet auction site are explored, she has been forced to question how seriously police take their occurrence.

Professor Jewkes commented: “Early optimism and idealism have given way to a darker, even dystopian prognoses, with the internet serving as a leitmotif for many and varied problems, dangers, risks and threats. There is resistance among individual police officers who do not see cyber crime as ‘proper' police work, and inadequate resources to make an impact.

“According to newspaper reports, the police in England and Wales investigate one alleged internet auction site scam every hour, some of which have moved beyond the cyber realm and precipitated ‘real world' crimes including burglary, assault, possession of firearms offences, civil disputes, harassment and an arson attack.

“Some policing initiatives set up to investigate cyber crime have already failed and been dissolved, but others are showing more signs of success.”

Charlie McMurdie, detective superintendent of the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), said that she was at a recent event with Professor Jewkes and had heard more about it, but e-crime remains a big issue for law enforcement.

McMurdie said: “Cyber crime is still seen as computer forensics, if someone goes on to a big retailer and says that they have picked up 2,000 fake identities in a breach, then there is a big spread across the country as one force will not want to take it on.

“The resources within law enforcement cover other areas here – for example child abuse takes priority over cyber crime. The work we are doing is to change not only public awareness but also law enforcement and awareness.”

Dr. Akif Khan, co-author of the fraud report published earlier this week, and head of client and technical services at CyberSource, said: “Organised criminal fraudsters are not going to be stealing one identity at a time by picking pockets, they will be stealing en masse by attempting to breach merchant's systems.

"Retailers have two options. They can encrypt sensitive card data throughout their infrastructure – which can be a good approach but does require ongoing costs and maintenance, but ultimately the data is still there. Alternatively, they can use tokenisation, whereby they send the card number to a trusted vendor who stores that number safely whilst returning a harmless token to the merchant that can be used in lieu of the card number – this is generally a safer and lower cost option.”

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