How the fight against cybercrime is transforming 21st century policing

In an increasingly digitised world, people face a new threat and a new breed of criminality. Their Money, information and even their identity live online, so it should come as no surprise that criminals are looking to the internet to illegally access sensitive information.

The information security industry at large can of course help play its part in keeping the thieves at bay, and safeguarding sensitive personal and corporate information. But it cannot fight this battle alone – as the worlds of thievery and hacking collide, police forces around the world need to be trained to deal with the cyber threats of today and to ultimately protect the general public.

The state of play

Adrian Leppard, commissioner of the City of London Police, recently warned how cybercrime will soon be more lucrative than the international drug trade. Moreover, up to a quarter of all organised criminal gangs in Britain alone are believed to be behind some form of financial crime, gaining tens of billions of pounds in profit ever year.

>See also: How do you solve a problem like cybercrime?

This is particularly alarming, especially if one considers how the vast majority of the population use the internet every day to do online banking or make purchases.

Leppard went on to warn how this is the equivalent of people leaving their front doors open for burglars to enjoy. Put simply, if citizens and businesses weren’t already aware, the cybercrime threat is very real.

So, how can they protect themselves from this growing issue? And do the police force have a role to play to ensure they’re kept safe online?

Well, across the UK, police forces are already making impressive strides in training their staff to deal with the next generation of cybercrime. Figures obtained by Veracode under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how there has been a surge in cyber skills training in the police force in recent years.

Nineteen police forces across the country revealed how 3,888 police forces have undertaken specific cyber security training in 2015, a near 100 times increase from five years ago.

The new world of cybercrime has clearly been acknowledged, but continued investment in this area must be a priority if the police are to stay one step ahead of hackers.

Harnessing the skills

These new-found cyber skills will enable local police forces to work with newly established cyber teams that lie within the Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCU). With this added training, police forces across the UK will be able to fully contribute to ROCU’s investigation of cybercrime that crosses into its jurisdiction, as well as to provide ongoing support to the National Cyber Crime Unit’s investigations into the most serious cybercrimes.

In practice and in everyday life, police forces’ new skills will be particularly helpful as we enter the age of ‘connected homes’ and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Application vulnerabilities, for example in internet-connected home-automation devices, have the power to turn what might have been a simplistic burglary into a more widespread regional theft ring that stretches beyond a single community, perhaps even crossing local authority jurisdictions.

Any local police force that can identify and deal with such an attack at an early stage, without it escalating further, should be applauded. These are the kind of modern-day cyber threats that any police force should be trained to deal with effectively.

While cyber security training exercises are certainly a step in the right direction, the police is not yet at a point where there are local cyber-forensics experts that businesses can turn to for help. Creating this faculty would certainly be of help to the already over-stretch national units, such as the National Cyber Crime Unit. At present, this division currently handles most of the reported cybercrime enquiries.

Collaboration must be the way forward. As well as a more joined-up approach between police and cybercrime units, Paul Gillen, head of operations for Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), recently called on private web security firms, the legal sector and academic researches to help – joining up in the ongoing fight against cybercrime.

>See also: The future of cybercrime

It’s clear that the growing threat of cybercrime has now reached police officers working on the beat each and every day.

Employees working from coffee shops, purchases made on online shopping websites, or even people logging into their own social media channels – all of these online shifts have dramatically changed the mind-set of the criminal and how crimes are committed.

This move from UK police forces is certainly in the right direction. Now, it is crucial that they continue to invest in this training to further upskill their officers to combat this growing danger to businesses and the general public.


Sourced from Chris Wysopal, CTO, Veracode

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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Cyber Crime