What more can the government do to tackle cybercrime?

By: Josh Daniels

Cybercrime has been described by experts as a “ticking time bomb” that could soon become a major public issue if the government, police and enterprises do not pull together. Huge volumes of cybercrime are now being reported across the UK every year. The new wave of attacks from sophisticated gangs and lone hackers are particularly devastating for large corporations and SMEs as their very existence is threatened by stolen data, loss of company assets and reputational damage, plus the subsequent loss of consumer confidence. The general public are also often victims of fraud and monetary losses online due to password and other forms of identity theft.

The costs of cybercrime are estimated to be around £26 billion in the UK, and the government has already announced a £650 million programme that aims to protect both the private and public sectors. However, many enterprises are still unaware of the very real dangers they face in cyberspace and are often unwilling to invest in measures to protect themselves. College of Policing Chief Executive Alex Marshall has also admitted that “there is much catching up to be done” in regards to combating the increasing complexity of cyber issues. The government has already announced plans to bolster police numbers to tackle the more than 600,000 offences every month in England and Wales, with a focus on improving training and attracting volunteers with digital skills. However, more needs to be done.

Increase collaboration

A TechUK report has called for much-needed collaboration between the vast range of industries and police to raise the quality of cybercrime reporting, prevention and general standards. It claims that a new lexicon for these attacks would enable more accurate information to be recorded, increase the obligation for industry to report any issues and incidents, and implement safeguards via initiatives such as Cyber Essentials. 

Victim support

This culture of collaboration could also be extended to provide better support to cybercrime victims. This would see the tech industry, police, consumer groups and charities such as Victim Support come together to mitigate the potential negative impacts of online attacks. GovNet is currently playing a key role in raising the awareness of cybercrime with its Modernising Justice initiative and is ably supported by the National Cyber Crime Unit.

Improve skills

TechUK claims that a Managed Services Provider (MSP) model would allow police forces to source the specialist skills they require, while developing the College of Policing to accredit providers and establish national standards would improve cybercrime training courses. It has also urged the government to provide more funding so that law enforcement can deal with the ongoing threat. BT Chief Executive of Cybercrime Mark Hughes has admitted that a lack of skilled graduates has hampered the industry’s efforts to react effectively to threats and issues, and has also called for a closer relationship between law enforcement and businesses to “disrupt” criminal organisations.

City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard welcomed the recommendations in the report, saying: “Creating structures that work nationally to facilitate this will be challenging but we should wrestle with these issues as the threats we face are significant. Just as technological innovation helped the public and police win the battle against other crime types it has great potential to assist law enforcement in investigating and designing out cybercrime.”