NCCU Director Jamie Saunders says international cooperation and standard procedures are essential in the war against cybercrime
The director of the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) has warned that the battle against cybercrime is a global one, and international cooperation is required if individual nations are to reap the benefits of the digital economy.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum in London, Dr Jamie Saunders said Commonwealth countries, and others, needed to develop common procedures and approaches, with the international community only as strong as its weakest link.
“[Cybercrime is] not just causing harm to citizens and businesses but threatens undermining consumer confidence in digital economy itself,” he said. “Countries that fail to grip CC problem are going to fail to grip the benefits of the digital economy.
“This is obviously a trans-national problem and we’re in this fight together. Gradually over the years, the components and mechanisms we need for international cooperation have been put in place. There’s still work to do but it’s beginning to take shape.”
Saunders said consistent definitions and processes were necessary, adding that Commonwealth common law was a good starting point but other conventions were necessary. He suggested that ministers present at the conference should reach out to their counterparts in other nations.
“It’s great if you’ve spoken to them, it’s even better if you’ve had a few beers with them,” he said.
Securing standard procedures for storing and sharing electronic evidence might be a bit more troublesome though: “This is extremely difficult because different laws in different countries on data protection are very, very different and the world is still struggling to find an answer to this.”
But despite these barriers, Saunders urged countries to provide a platform for coordinated response and to share best practices. Specialised central units such as the NCCU are great, he said, but police need to be trained at a local level to deal with individual cases and specially trained prosecutors are needed to take cases through the legal system.
“The other thing we’ve found to be very important is real clarity in the processes for reporting cybercrime,” he explained. “The reason for this is that the single crime can impact a number of people across the country.
“We’ve developed a single platform for developing cybercrime, both a phone system and online system housed by the City of London police. It’s still developing and not perfect yet, but it’s still important.
“The other thing we have found really useful is new national computer response team (CERT UK). CERT UK has developed the network to get information out rapidly to much wider group of businesses.
“We all know that actually the best way to prevent these kinds of cyber-attacks is by educating public and business what to look out for.
“This threat is serious, multi-faceted and really does risk confidence on the digital economy that we all depend. It does require a strong national response. International collaboration is absolutely crucial and I see the CW as a fantastic place to explore and see what we need to do in that area.”
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