Helping the fight against Cyber Crime

World in Hands


David Cameron’s statement announcing war on online pornography has brought cyber security front and centre. While most agree with the sentiment, there are mixed opinions on whether the UK is winning the war. One thing does seem to be certain, heavy investment in cyber security and the skills needed is a priority across the country.

The Prime Minister has called for internet providers to default block pornography from computers, unless deliberately removed. Cameron continued to suggest certain types should be made illegal as in Scotland.

David Cameron announced; “I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood. . . And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out. . . Possession of such material is already an offence in Scotland but because of a loophole in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, it is not an offence south of the border. . . Well I can tell you today we are changing that. We are closing the loophole – making it a criminal offence to possess internet pornography that depicts rape.”

This is the tip of the iceberg for the government’s campaign involving pornography and cyber security. The European Commission has estimated costs of up to €750 billion a year from cybercrime. For the UK, an agreement had been reached with the four biggest ISPs in relation to filters and has requested search engines to blacklist certain search terms.

It would be easy to scare monger the public on the level of defence for families against the easy availability of pornography or to suggest the UK is losing the fight to keep the public safe from cyber gangs. As with many issues, there are already backlash comments on the progress of the cyber security and the level of censorship. The fact remains, this is a growing global issue and the UK is trying to ensure it is doing what is possible to win. 

In 2010, the government released a statement detailing a plan for increased funding for cyber security. This is now being followed up with a single National Cybercrime Unit, to become part of the National Crime Agency.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Crime is at record low levels and this government is taking action to tackle the cyber-threat, investing more than £850m through the national cyber-security programme to develop and maintain cutting-edge capabilities . . . But we know we need to keep pace with criminals as they target the web and so we continue to consider ways to ensure the police and security services have access to communications data.”

The call for skilled employees to fill vital cyber security roles comes at the same time as recently released figures proclaiming a growth IT jobs in the UK. As of March 2013, 720,000 people were employed within the IT sector. The report was released by the Office of National Statistics, including analysis by The Financial Times, found an 11% increase compared to the previous year. This is good news for potential employees and for businesses operating in the IT industry. The need for cyber security skills should make this a desirable role to focus people’s IT careers on.

Training is a critical area for the UK’s success in cyber security. A university course is already offered at Coventry University to help tackle this exact issue.

Senior lecturer in ethical hacking and network security at Coventry University, Dr Siraj Shaikh, commented on the course; “The idea is people need to have a mix of conceptual and practical skills to tackle problems both in terms of designing security systems and security monitoring, and also forensics and post-incident handling. So it’s a range of skills that we need across the different sectors and that’s why there’s a real need – and a shortage in certain areas – that we need to address in the UK, there’s no doubt.”

Shaikh continued to highlight how the problem of cyber security affects all of the UK, not just segregated areas; “We need to make people aware that computing, computer science, and technology generally, is not just about mobile phones and consumer gadgets. It’s about critical infrastructure, transport, for example, power grids, healthcare, where there’s a big use and redesigning of how electronics, data and so on are used. We need to grow awareness around a lot of these roles in future – whether it’s civil engineers, doctors, agriculturalists and farmers – they would have to be aware around issues to do with privacy and security.”

Cybercrime and global security is an issue which is not going to go away on its own. The government, charities and businesses are all doing what is possible to help, while some believe more should be done.  With the right skills, employees might be able to help this fight in a big way. 

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