Met Police's cyber fraud squad sees rise in cyber-enabled crime

Detective Superintendent Jayne Snelgrove, head of Metropolitan Police's Falcon group, says that cyber-enabled crime can only be stopped using teamwork and the right skills.

Met Police's cyber fraud squad sees rise in cyber-enabled crime
Met Police's cyber fraud squad sees rise in cyber-enabled crime

In her keynote speech at the Cyber Security Summit in Westminster today, Snelgrove followed other Met Police cyber-crime chiefs in admitting that it's been hard for London's police, which is more used to traditional methods of policing. She even said at the start of the discussion that – having only having started working in fraud and cyber-crime at the beginning of 2014 – she was ‘none the wiser really' despite the year almost being at an end.

Snelgrove heads up the Falcon (Fraud and Linked Crime Online) group, which was established back in August with a view to responding to the increasing trend of fraud and theft being committed online.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said at the time of the launch: "Falcon will see the Met have the best and, I believe, largest cyber-crime and fraud team in Europe, with up to 500 specialist officers dedicated to tackling this crime.” The team currently comprises 300 officers, including those based at head office covering complex cyber-frauds and pro-actively targetting serious cyber-crime gangs.

“What Falcon is committed to doing is offering the right kind of service companies and victims across UK. But we don't suggest we've got all the answers and brainpower,” she said before adding that the group is more likely to head to industry to, for example, reverse engineer malware and find its origin.

More generally, Snelgrove urged attendees not to think of cyber as a core IT issue but – when it comes to fraud at least –also consider merging the custom generation and the IT department.

“Think about cyber-security in the round…don't just think of it as an IT department's responsibility. It should also be custom generation department. But they're two separate portfolios and if they do get linked at the boardroom you're very lucky.”

She added that the insider threat is a common issue which should not be underestimated, with many firms employing up-to-date intrusion detection systems but not vetting staff to an appropriate level.

“They might be a loyal valued member of the team and do fantastic work, but that doesn't mean circumstances and mind-sets won't change.”

Industry help

It was on the subject of industry collaboration where Snelgrove – like the other speakers before her – urged the private sector to help bring cyber-criminals to justice. The Met Police, she said, has limited resources.

“We go to industry and say ‘we're detectives, we find things, but we don't know about this particularly technology,” Snelgrove said at the summit.

To add to this, she said that the geographically the nature of cyber-crime meant that the police couldn't simply deal with an investigation as if the issue stopped at ‘the end of the M25'.

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