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Cyber Crime Is Still Rising, Say Police Forces
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Cyber Crime Is Still Rising, Say Police Forces

Reported incidents grow.

UK think tank Parliament Street has released a report into the pressures that police are facing, focusing on the impact of cyber crime.

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There is a lot of discussion on how businesses and individuals should better prepare themselves for handling cyber attacks and fraud, but the strain cyber crime is putting the police under is also worth considering. The report Hack Attack: Police Under Pressure addresses just that, and the key point to take away from it is that the police are responding to more cases of computer hacking and social media-related incidents.

The report was collated from Freedom of Information requests issued to all police forces in England in August 2018, with 14 forces responding to the request in full. The think tank asked for detail on the number of crimes that fall under the Computer Misuse Act in the last two financial years, which mention hacking, smart devices or connected devices.

The headline figure from its report is that reported hacking crimes (across police forces providing a full breakdown of figures) increased by 14% over the past two financial years. The report partly attributes this rise simply to the fact that people are increasingly reporting hacking crimes to their local police force.

The think tank also asked forces which cyber crimes were being reported, and this pointed to a clear trend of “malicious hacking” into individuals’ social media accounts and subsequently posting content and messages under that user’s profile. From a business perspective, there were also many reported cases of business accounts and servers being subjected to hacking. The report specifically points to an example of ransomware being employed on a business server and business websites also being hacked.

The report points out that the ultimate consequence of such reported incidents is that police forces are seeing hacking investigations divert much-needed resources from other serious crimes such as high levels of violent crimes and knife crimes. The think tank states that police forces must have the right cyber skills to deal with incidents and is calling for mandatory national cyber crime training for officers and staff, possibly with collaboration with the National Cyber Security Centre. It also wants to see increased support for police forces from the industry, calling on social media sites and technology companies to do more to support police in tracking down the perpetrators of hacking crimes and offering training where needed.

In fact, one company has offered to do just that. Cisco has recently announced that it is to help train 120,000 officers in cybersecurity via its Cisco Networking Academy scheme. Training such as this could really help police forces handle a growing threat.

Finally, Parliament Street recommends that police forces work with universities, training colleges and industry organisations to offer placement years and consultancy to better equip officers, while also generally encouraging the recruitment of STEM-qualified officers.

Police forces are clearly facing pressure to handle more traditional crimes alongside increasingly reported cyber crime. If the industry can provide partnerships in the fight against hacking, that can surely only be a good thing.

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