Police upskill officers on cyber-crime

News by Doug Drinkwater

Police forces across the UK are increasing up-skilling their officers so that they can properly deal with cyber-crime cases, a new Freedom of Information Act request reveals.

Application security vendor Veracode submitted the request earlier this year and found that, of the 19 forces to have responded, 3,829 police officers had undertaken specific cyber-security training in 2015, compared to just 37 in 2010. Although cyber-crime was barely a spot on the radar at that point, this does still represent a rise of more than 100 percent compared to five years ago.

In a press release, Veracode said that these new skills would enable local forces, where the cyber-security skills gap has been most felt, to work with the newly established cyber teams within the Regional Organised Crime Units(ROCU). With the added training, it is hoped that local police forces will also be able to contribute to ROCU investigations that involve their jurisdiction, as well as provide support to National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) for the most serious cyber-crime investigations.

Chris Wysopal, co-founder, CISO and CTO at Veracode, welcomes the initiative to defend against the growing threat of cyber-crime.

“These findings suggest how the growing threat of cyber-crime has reached police officers working on the beat each and every day," he said in a statement. "It is vital that forces continue to invest in training officers to tackle this increasing danger to businesses and members of the public alike."

“Collaboration is essential to stemming the tide of cyber-crime sweeping the UK. Just as connectivity has forever changed business – mobile apps are now storefronts, employees work from coffee shops or any other hotspot, purchases can be made directly from internet connected devices in our homes – and this has also dramatically shifted how crimes are committed."

However, he warned: “While the cyber-security training exercises are certainly a step in the right direction, we're not yet at a point where there's a cyber-forensics expert attached to each local police force that businesses can turn to for help. Creating this faculty would certainly be of help to the over-stretched national units, such as the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), which currently handles most reported cyber-crime inquiries.”

Charlie McMurdie, senior crime adviser at PwC and ex-head of the Met Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), told SCMagazineUK.com that there continue to be issues in law enforcement around cyber-crime, namely that most of the talent and intelligence is in private industry. However, she believes that strides have been made.

“The news is very encouraging,” she said, “when you consider how many have received any training against the overall police numbers it's still a relatively small amount considering cyber-issues and opportunities tend to exist in virtually every type of crime.”

“Only the Metropolitan police demonstrated recently that it had built capability to meet the strategic policing requirement for cyber-crime recently.”

However, she doubted the depth of much of this training, saying that the training during her time on law enforcement was more on general awareness, such as ‘what is IP', and understanding open-source intelligence rather “than the high-end training which takes time and money to establish”

She also cited public sector salaries, an interesting topic of debate considering GCHQ yesterday started advertising for 'white hat' hackers, but with a starting salary of only £28,000.

“A real issue still exists with the retention of staff within law enforcement once they have developed crime-crime skills and then tend to seek career development and greater salaries available within the private sector.”

McMurdie added: “We still need to build on current partnership work being done to establish how industry can contribute better to addressing cyber-crime, not purely with intelligence sharing but engaging better, utilising the vast resource in industry and academia to support law enforcement with tactical expertise, tools and resource.

This news follows on from Police Scotland investing £1.5 million in a new cyber-crime hub, that a London Digital Security Centre will include NCA, the Met and City police, and just weeks after two police spokesmen said that the Police more generally is 'ill-equipped' to deal with such cases.

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