Cyber policing and surveillance in Britain today


Britain's role in tackling the threat of cyber crime and the government's plans to keep data on the people have been hot topics in 2009. During last month's Infosecurity event, they were once again in the spotlight and brought home to everybody connected with keeping computers secure.

David Blunkett on the Olympics

From his chequered history as a Labour Home Secretary, Blunkett was always worth a headline, and this year was no exception.

He highlighted the threat of cyber criminals to the running of the London Olympic Games in 2012, which could also pose a great threat to the economy and Britain's image.

"There is both a challenge and an opportunity," he said, in a call to arms for those involved in information security as well as the IT industry in general.

"An opportunity to persuade the world that we are, and can be, a safe, reliable and comfortably environment for the expansion of activity on web."

Blunkett also said that, if well run, the Games could be a major driver for the British economy, and we needed to be "ahead of the game", rather than "waiting for things to happen".

Blunkett on ID cards

Olympic references weren't the only thing Blunkett said that created their fair share of headlines. He also said that he saw passports as a potential replacement for ID cards.

He did seem to be behind current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's controversial plan to get ISPs to collect data on their users. But he was really concerned about the treatment of the data once authorities like the police and the security services get hold of it.

Blunkett called for an urgent review of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and he urged for that to happen quickly to ensure that data was being kept and used for the right purposes.

Policing cyberspace

At last year's Infosecurity show, the Police Central e-Crime unit (PCeU) wasn't yet formed. Instead, Metropolitan Police superintendent Charlie McMurdie was heading the hunt for help and funding.

This year's Infosecurity saw the PCeU already set up, ready to fight the aspects of e-crime that have become a big deal for businesses and consumers alike.

The PCeU have been working in three key areas. The first has increased mainstream capabilities throughout law enforcement to improve the response to e-crime.

The second involved McMurdie's central team of cybercops' such as network investigators, computer forensic staff and comms coordination, pulling together and investigating the most significant attacks that took place as they occurred.

The third area involved the City of London Police, which was the leading force against fraud, as most of it occurred in the capital.

As reported in February , they were working on establishing a National Reporting Centre for e-crime fraud issues, and alongside it a National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

"What we need is the brigaded intelligence to say that there are 2,000 victims around the country who may be reporting in 43 different forces," McMurdie said.

"Let's pull that intelligence together and find out there is one serious organised crime group behind that particular attack."

The National Fraud Reporting Centre is looking at going live next summer.

Although the PCeU has already made several pleas for industry help, McMurdie used Infosecurity as an opportunity to ask the tech community to help directly in the fight against cybercrime by either becoming part-time community volunteers, or as more involved special constables.