Cyber police quadrupled to meet hacktivist threat

A security firm has welcomed news that the Metropolitan Police has quadrupled its cybercrime team.

Cyber police quadrupled to meet hacktivist threat

A funding boost of £30 million has helped the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) grow in size from only 20 officers in April to 85 now – an enlargement deemed necessary as the force increasingly has to deal with more traditional cybercrime as well as hacktivists such as Anonymous and LulzSec.

“We’ve really pushed on at some pace since we got that agreement around new money,” the PCeU’s head, Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, told The Telegraph. “We’re now at an operational establishment of 85 people, which is no small feat in that short couple of months.”

The news was welcomed by security firm Sophos, which noted cyber policing is not only about catching criminals, but successfully prosecuting them.

Police forces across the country are stretched for resources, so being given more resources is a significant win for the PCeU.

“[It’s] reasonable to ask whether cybercrime operations at the Met are more deserving of funds than more traditional aspects of policing aimed at directly protecting life and property,” noted researcher Paul Ducklin, in a post on the Sophos blog.

He noted some people have called for the battle against cybercrime to be largely left in the hands of banks, security firms and other private bodies.

“I agree that law enforcement and our economy cannot simply rely on industry verticals – including security companies like Sophos – for our collective ability against cybercrime,” Ducklin said.

“Few crimes these days have no cyber-element. From investigation, through arrest and the bringing of charges, prosecution and sentencing, most modern criminal cases require cyberskills.”

He said the extra funding was important as police need the right skills to gather evidence from system logs, mobile phones and PCs.

“And I’m talking about the need to package and present this evidence in a way which not only satisfies the meticulous rules of evidence imposed by the courts, but also makes sense to a jury and a judge without any of those cyber skills,” he added.

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