City of London Police to set up crack cyber-detective branch

PC Dixon of Dock Green reporting for cyber duty. Image copyright BBC

City of London Police is building a new branch of supposedly IT-savvy detectives to protect businesses and consumers from cyber crime. According to a new report in the Daily Telegraph, City of London Police is planning to hire cyber detectives direct from some of the UK's best universities to work as part of a specialist cyber security branch.

In an interview with the newspaper, Peter O'Doherty - head of crime and cyber security at the force - said his team is in the process of setting up a new computer science graduate programme.

He said that his force is looking to hire the UK's brightest technology graduates to fight rising cyber crime across the city - although it's not clear if they will be offered a salary package to match what they could be offered in private industry.

Cybercrime investigation is first of all based on practical experience, not on a university degree

Currently, the scheme is only in the design stages, but O'Doherty revealed that the force is looking to trial it with an initial cohort of five or six students next year.

"Cyber crime is the most significant growing threat in this country. Cyber detectives wouldn't help the issue of under-reporting [of hacks] but would provide the capability to investigate cyber crime more efficiently than we do now," he said. However, in order to ensure that current detectives are given the resources to improve their skills, the force is also looking to launch a cyber security academy.

Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of web security company High-Tech Bridge, said that it is crucial that the force also considers candidates with practical experience if the programme is to be a success.

"This is a great news reaffirming UK's cybersecurity leadership in Europe. Many EU countries cannot afford even the fundamental resources and people to investigate and prosecute cybercrime," said Kolochenko.

Retaining experienced professionals will likely be quite costly as large companies are ready to pay them very competitive salaries

"UK gives a laudable example everyone should follow. However, we should not forget that cybercrime investigation is first of all based on practical experience, not on a university degree.

"Thus, retaining experienced professionals will likely be quite costly as large companies are ready to pay them very competitive salaries.

Retention of talents will be a challenge."

The news comes just days after the City of London Police launched the 'Cyber Griffin' programme, which is aimed at protecting businesses based in the Square Mile from hackers.

As part of the initiative, trained cyber detectives will deliver a string of training exercises and briefings to local businesses to ensure they have the knowledge to identify and respond to cyber attacks.

Through this initiative the police and industry can work together to share skills and knowledge to protect ourselves from this evolving crime

Speaking last week, City of London Police commissioner Ian Dyson said that the project will see detectives and industry coming together to fight cyber threats.

"As criminals working in cyberspace become more sophisticated, it's important we all have at least basic skills to combat those that seek to do us harm," he said.

"Through this initiative the police and industry can work together to share skills and knowledge to protect ourselves from this evolving crime."

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