Businesses must go after bad guys, says top cop

Charlie McMurdie, joint architect of the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), says that businesses are beginning to realise that going after the bad guys' is a visible, long-term solution to cybercrime.

Talking to IT PRO, Metropolitan Police detective superintendent McMurdie said that actively pursuing criminals was a "culture change" for businesses, who tended to only concentrate on mitigating and preventing fraud taking place.

She said: "I think businesses are waking up to the fact that we can keep preventing it day in and day out with a lot of money lost and harm caused, or we can have a visible and long-term deterrent solution or action by going after the bad guys."

McMurdie used the analogy of somebody throwing a brick through a window. If the resident/business keeps - at great cost - boarding the broken window up, it will just keep happening again and again until somebody deals with the perpetrator.

She said that there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes before the PCeU could go operational in the summer, both in police forces throughout the UK in addition to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) committee group.

Training, preventative and forensic standards are all being improved, while the actual hub of the PCeU needs to be able to provide the mainstream investigative capability for the more serious offences that have national impact.

"These are either the determined attacks to take industry sectors down as we have seen with some of the online companies who have suffered denial of service attacks, and also the high volume low value type fraud which is hitting the UK economy," McMurdie added.

McMurdie commented on how the PCeU could have an impact on ridding the UK of credit card and online retail fraud. She said that the police unit could only be effective if the retail sector was prepared to work with it by sharing what crimes were taking place. They also need to refine the collation of information obtained from their financial systems.

"The aim of the PCeU is to focus mainstream capability throughout law enforcement, so where there is a problem, industry has got somewhere to go to and knows what they're talking about as well as provide an appropriate response," said McMurdie.

"Whether that's full blown investigation, preventive advice or some sort of response to what's taking place."

Of business interest in helping the PCeU, she added: "We've got a lot of companies, obviously from the financial sector, and significant interest from the retail sector."

McMurdie said that although the companies are interested in how they could work with the PCeU, they also need to have the confidence that the unit could pull intelligence from all the different industrial sectors and create an effective law enforcement response.