(Phys.org) —Britain's Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) has issued a report critiquing the state of local police readiness regarding cyber-crime in England and Wales. Workers with HMIC have gathered statistics in the wake of the British government's call to action last year to respond to five major threats: terrorism, civil emergencies, organized crime, public order threats and large-scale cyber-attacks. While the bulk of traditional threats appear to be adequately addressed, developing a response to a large-scale cyber attack does not. Indeed, representatives of the HMIC have concluded that many top law enforcement officials were not even clear on what constitutes a large-scale cyber-attack.
In the report, HMIC claims that out of 43 police forces, just 3 have developed a comprehensive plan to handle a major cyber attack and only 2 percent of police staff had been trained on how to investigate cyber crime.
One of the difficulties in fighting cyber crime, is of course, the lack of geography. In real life, crimes happen in certain areas that fall under a certain jurisdictions. With cyber crime, the perpetuators could be next door (stealing WiFi), across town, or even in another country. When a victim arrives at a police station to report that they've had data stolen off their computer, in most cases, police won't know how to respond. Another problem is that computer security has in many cases come to be seen as a private matter—banks and credit card companies are expected to protect not only their own assets, but those of their customers.
Sadly, officials with HMIC found that very little has changed regarding police preparation for cyber attacks since they last checked two years ago, suggesting that many forces either don't understand the threat or don't know where to begin to prepare against it. In the report, readiness is seen as "largely absent." Of particular concern is the apparent lack of readiness to protect public resources such as power stations or water treatment facilities against cyber terrorists—the HMIC considers such to be civil emergency possibilities, yet little appears to have been done by local police to protect them.
The report concludes by insisting that local police forces take cyber crime more seriously and to upgrade their knowledge about cyber attacks and how to combat them. Police, they note, need to operate just as well in cyber-space as they do on the streets.