InfoSec 2009: cyber police need resources and partnerships

Police agencies need more resources and collaboration to fight cybercrime, attendees of Infosec Europe heard in London today.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, who heads the six-month old £6.5 million Police Central E-Crime Unit (PCeU), called on security professionals to volunteer their time and skills in helping train regional police or work on investigations.

The investigative arm of the PCeU is still being ramped up, but eventually it will work in association with two other police strands: the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which trains regional officers on cybercrime, and the National Fraud Reporting Centre (NFRC), which is due to go live next summer to record all instances of fraud and build a picture of how serious a problem they are facing.

"We can't put a cyber cop into every Tesco breach, or every local police force. We need to pool intelligence together and co-ordinate efforts across the UK," she said, in a panel discussion on policing the internet.

The mission statement of PCeU is to establish standard processes, structures and training across all 43 police forces across the UK to make their work effective, and avoid duplication of effort, she said.

"We can't do it by ourselves," said McMurdie, calling on security expert attendees to submit ideas or volunteer their time to work in the PCeU.

"Cybercrime is growing, but my resources are not. The only way I can make them grow is by better harvesting the links with industry."

Businesses that have fallen victim to cybercrime can also help by reporting even relatively minor incidents, which helps the police build a picture, she said.

Philip Virgo, secretary general of e-crime working group Eurim, agreed that partnership is necessary, and governments cannot be solely responsible for policing the internet. Instead, users, law enforcement agencies, security firms and businesses must work together to address cybercrime.

"If we rely on Parliament, they will introduce legislation, and that won't work," added Alun Michael MP, chairman of Eurim and chairman of the UK Internet Governance Forum. Legislation would hurt e-commerce.

"Legislation would fall on everybody and we need to keep regulation away from the good guys," he said.

"It's not about technology, it's about human nature and human failings. Trying to tackle crime works better if you understand the problem before you start, and if you plan properly," he said.

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