In its newly released manifesto, the Conservative Party has pledged to shake up the country’s approach to cybersecurity and establish a new cyber crime force. “We will adapt to new threats, investing more in cybersecurity,” the document states.
“We will create a new national cyber crime force and empower the police to safely use new technologies like biometrics and artificial intelligence, along with the use of DNA, within a strict legal framework,” the manifesto said. “We will also create a world-class National Crime Laboratory,” it added.
The proposal fails to elaborate on how this new cyber crime force will impact on the existing National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), as government bodies are unable to comment on manifesto pledges due to purdah restrictions. The NCCU works closely with UK police forces’ regional organised crime units, international partners such as Europol and the FBI, and cyber security experts in the private sector.
The NCCU has had some notable successes in recent years, taking responsibility for the January 2019 conviction of Daniel Kaye, the British hacker behind a sustained DDoS attack against Liberian telecoms company Lonestar MTN.
The department also worked with Dutch Police and other partners to take down DDoS-for-hire service Webstresser, executing eight warrants and seizing more than 60 devices.
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At the start of 2019, the government invested £7 million to arm every police force in England and Wales with a dedicated cyber crime unit. The funding was also used to support the recruitment of specialist officers and staff, provide appropriate training to ensure a consistent level of victim support and to increase local investigative capabilities.
Before this investment only one-third of police forces had dedicated cyber crime capabilities. The Labour Party’s manifesto, which was issued just days after the party was hit by a series of cyber attacks, has also pledged to overhaul the UK’s cybersecurity framework.
Measures would include a review of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) with the intention of giving it additional powers as an auditor. This would empower it to designate risk and issue appropriate warnings to end-users.
Labour has also promised to create a the new position of coordinating minister for cybersecurity, as well as conducting “regular reviews of cyber-readiness,” a pledge that has been welcomed by experts.