PA Consulting: Police lacks skills to combat cybercrime

17 December 2014

In the coming years police officers expect the threat of cybercrime to increase significantly, reveals a new survey from PA Consulting, yet at the same time there are concerns on how the police will deal with the matter. Skills improvement and modern tools will be key in the fight against digital criminals.

Consulting firm PA Consulting Group recently released the results of a new cybercrime study, developed in association with the National Analyst Working Group* (NAWG), for which it surveyed 185 police analysts from 48 UK law enforcement organisations. In the survey, the researchers assessed the perception on the threats posed by cybercrime, how that threat is forecasted to evolve and how the UK law enforcement community should respond.

The study shows that the majority of police intelligence analysts (57%) believe that the threat of cybercrime will increase significantly over the next three years, 41% think the threat will increase slightly, and none of the analysts expect the threat to reduce.

Analysts forecasting growth of cybercrime threat

Fighting cybercrime
Almost three out of four (74%) respondents indicate that cybercrime currently makes up a part of their role, a percentage that is significantly higher than the 28% noted in 2011. Despite the high percentage, the police analysts indicate that their time spent on this task only makes up 10% of their time. Almost all analysts expect cybercrime to be part of their role three years from now, and say to foresee a tripling of their time spent on cybercrime investigation.

Proportion of respondents investigating cybercrime

Tools and skills
Of the analysts, only 30% feel comfortable with their current skills and tools and believe they can identify and tackle cyber threats effectively. Digital skills that, according to the consulting firm, are critical to exploit internet data sources effectively as 50% of the investigations are dependent on the collection and analysis of communications. In addition, just 5% claim to have ‘considerable knowledge’ to combat cybercrime. “It is clear from our survey that the police needs to transform its training, tools and ways of working for a new digital landscape if it’s to combat the increasingly sophisticated threats posed by a new wave of online criminality,” comments Nick Newman, Police and Cyber Security Expert at PA Consulting.

Police skills and tools to combat cybercrime

* The National Analyst Working Group consists of analysts and researchers working in law enforcement agencies and police forces across the UK.