PA Consulting Group’s research and analyst forecasts suggest more training and skills are required to cope with online security threats
Investment in information communication technology to counter cyber threats is at record levels within the Gulf, but the challenges faced by police forces remain high, an industry expert has warned.
Speaking in the aftermath of the cyber-attacks made on high profile UAE media websites and US President Barack Obama’s latest call for private sector companies to share cyber security information, Paul Ellis, IT security expert at PA Consulting Group, has said that while technology can and will assist in the defence of online security attacks, the profile of policing resources must also change to assure cyber-criminal activity is detected and disrupted.
A recent report issued by PA in the UK reported that police analysts forecast the time spent on cybercrime will treble over the next three years but only 30 per cent believe they have the skills and tools to tackle the threats effectively.
Recent procurement activity by a number of Middle East states suggests that there remains a significant gap in counter-cyber capability. Ellis warns: “This is not a problem for which you can ‘buy’ a technical tool as the solution. Tools and technology will help but specialist teams need to be recruited, trained and maintained in order to make a long-lasting impact.”
“Awareness campaigns have also helped raise public and institutional focus on how technology and data is protected and used. But the skills and expertise required are quite different to traditional policing activity and must be continually refreshed and renewed to keep pace with criminal capacity and intent.”
The survey commissioned by PA in the UK found that the police there are ill prepared to cope with today’s digital environment and only 15% of analysts think cybercrime is specifically measured within their organisation, meaning the challenge may be even tougher than imagined.
Recognising that cybercrime does not respect national borders, PA is warning police forces within the GCC and wider Middle East region that an international perspective should be adopted, monitoring activities around the world as well as those presenting domestic threats.
Ellis added: “This is not a threat that police can address alone. Organisations and individuals must assume a responsibility to assure that their behaviours and use of technology does not present a soft target for cyber criminals.
“Advances in communications technologies are an integral part of society and brings great social and commercial value to businesses and consumers alike. They do, however, also provide a channel that can be used by organised and informal criminal groups. It is important that police and security services recognise the threats posted by these widely accessible technologies.
“This will require new skills and approaches within police and security organisations using advanced monitoring and analytics to not only investigate, detect and prosecute those responsible for cybercrime but also disrupt and deter criminal activity before it causes harm.”
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