Police expand specialist cybercrime unit

Adam Powell

Journalist, BBC Radio Cumbria

A new unit has been set up at Cumbria's police headquarters to expand work against cybercrime such as sexual exploitation, hacking and financial fraud.

Woman officer at work at computer

The specialist officers, who have already done work leading to the arrest of dozens of paedophiles looking for child abuse images, will be joined by three new staff including two detectives, more space and new areas of operation.

The Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall has put a budget of £250,000 into the development and says that while officers out on patrol may give more public reassurance, police work in high-tech offices is now at least as important.

Det Insp Ian Harwood says their work includes getting information out of computers and mobile phones for a range of wide investigations, with many jobs being referred to them every week.

We deal with online sex abuse and cybercrime, and we also have a digital forensics unit that extracts data from digital devices used in crime."

Det Insp Ian Harwood

Increase in cyber attacks on businesses

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Computer passwords
Getty Images

The proportion of UK firms reporting a cyber-attack has jumped, despite most businesses admitting they are under-prepared for breaches, according to research from Hiscox.

The insurer found 55% had faced an attack in 2019, up from 40% last year.

"Companies are taking the problem seriously, but I don't think they are taking it seriously enough," Gareth Wharton, head of Cyber at Hiscox, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The number of attacks are going up because attackers are able to find easier ways to attack."

He said the biggest problem used to be with ransomware, but was now business email compromise.

That is where a member of staff at a firm uses the same password for an out-of-work email address or website login, as they do for their work email.

Once hackers obtain the password, they then send email from the work address asking for business clients to send future payments to their bank account rather than to the firm's genuine bank account.

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