The Government has been recommended to invest in the Get Safe Online site and improve police officers' knowledge of cyber crime.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report on malware and cyber crime, released this week, said that while cyber crime issues are handled by a number of police agencies and units, and police were clear about the relevant lines of responsibility and authority between them, those outside the police were confused.
It determined that work is needed to make the policing responsibilities more transparent to enable victims of crime to contact the right officers.
“More police officers need to have an understanding of cyber crime, at least to the point of properly recording the crime that takes place and signposting victims to relevant organisations that can provide help and advice,” it said.
“The Government recently published its shadow Strategic Policing Requirement, which focuses on policing capability to respond to a large-scale cyber incident, rather than the more workaday ability to respond generally to cyber crime.”
It also claimed that the default action for an individual who experiences cyber crime would appear to be to refer it to the police, or possibly simply attempt to minimise any financial loss by contacting banks and online services, depending on the exact nature of the crime. It said "there is no single first point of advice and help for the consumer".
The report recommended that the police have dedicated pages on the Get Safe Online website on which they might communicate directly with the public, to gather information and intelligence about what is happening to individual computer users and to provide consumers with an authoritative policing voice on current cyber crime issues.
The report also recommended that the Government invest in the Get Safe Online site "to ensure that it integrates all of the relevant organisations necessary to provide a single authoritative source on which computer users could rely".
It also recommended a "prolonged public awareness campaign" on the issue of personal online security and to promote the website.
Last year former home secretary David Blunkett accused the coalition government of failing to continue the Get Safe Online project and cutting back on essential cyber security services; he said there was a danger that the Cyber Security Strategy will undo the work of the Police e-crime Unit and GCHQ.
The report said it welcomed the commitment set out in the Cyber Security Strategy to make it easier and more intuitive for the public to report online crime, and urged the Government to ensure that this reporting function is integrated with the development of the Get Safe Online site as a one-stop shop for online security information.
The report added that it was disappointed to learn that ISPs might fail to share information with their users, particularly as it is "up to the ISP to pass the bad news on to the relevant customer" in the event of being infected, because only the ISP knows who was using the IP address at the relevant time.
It said: “In practice, very few ISPs relay information and almost none go looking for further sources of this type of data. We recommend that the Government works with ISPs to establish an online database where users can determine whether their machine has been infected with botware and gain information on how to clean the infection from their machine. We think that this should also be integrated with the Get Safe Online website.”