Geraint Jones doesn't have it too easy. As the regional cyber-crime threat lead for Operation Titan, the north-west's dedicated cyber-crime police unit, he finds himself swamped with a confusing morass of reports.
A recent UK government report listed cyber-crime as a tier one threat, the category reserved for international terrorism and now cyber-crime.
A big threat it may be, but it's a nebulous one, too. “We are struggling to measure that threat,” said Jones. Normally, police forces are very good at measuring crime, but “with this we are unable to count properly”.
Cyber-crime is “not the most helpful of terms”. On the one hand, we have old crimes using new technologies. Fraud and paedophilia, for example, would both count not as cyber-crime but as cyber-enabled crime.
Then, we have pure cyber-crime. Crime which could not be carried out without the use of a computer or some form of networked technology.
The north-west is dealing with the proliferation of both. Not just old crimes perpetrated on new computers but malware that's increasingly easy to buy, rent and use. The Blackshades trojan, for example, was at certain points sold for less than £40 not to mention easy to acquire and deploy.