A new report has found that Britain’s police force are overall unprepared for cybercrime, with just three forces nationwide having developed a comprehensive strategy in their Strategic Threat and Risk Assessments (STRAs).
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report looked at the overall capability of the police to respond to a number of national threats, including terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime. The report is a follow up ‘inspection’ to the 2012 Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) document produced by the government on what forces need to achieve when it comes to national issues.
It was found that cybercrime policing is the most under-developed area in forces around the UK, although it’s acknowledged that the area is a relatively new one to the police.
"Although we expect them to be further ahead than they are we do fully understand that this is an area that has not been fully understood by any agency anywhere in the world, we are not overly critical of the police service about this, we think they have now grasped the challenge,” said HM Inspector Steven Otter , author of the report.
He went on to say that the low take up of cybercrime training in the police force was a sign that many forces are not taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. Of the eight e-learning packages available, less than two percent of the staff designated to take the course actually did so.
"There needs to be rapid action by the police and other agencies as cybercrime is growing rapidly as a threat nationally,” Mr Otter said.
It was also found that many forces were "silent” when it came to the prevention of cybercrime and protecting citizens from it. This was despite the overall view that cybercrime is swiftly becoming a "dominant method in the perpetration of crime.”
"The police must be able to operate very soon just as well in cyberspace as they do on the street," the report said.
Last year, a study by the Ponemon Institute found that cybercrime targeting businesses has jumped by nearly 80% in the past four years. In the UK, it was found that the average cost of cybercrime to business was £2.9m per organisation and most of these took the form of DDoS attacks or malicious hacking attempts.
"The threat landscape continues to evolve as cyber attacks grow in sophistication, frequency and financial impact," said Frank Mong, vice president and general manager, solutions, enterprise security products for HP, which commissioned the study.
With this in mind, it seems that Britain’s police force need to get to grips with training and support for those that are affected by cybercrime. Since the (SPR) document was produced in 2012, it seems that forces have not risen to meet the challenge and are currently no further forward than they were in 2012, overall.
Further training is now necessary to ensure that the police can meet future threats, especially in light of the recent launch of CERT-UK, which will be "undermined significantly if police forces are unable to help and assist people at a regional and local level,” according to Charles Sweeny , chief executive of internet security company Bloxx.