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Five challenges from cyber space for policing

19 May 2016

I believe the theme of future crime is especially pertinent. I predict that over the next three to five years we will face a cyber ‘arms race’ with criminals and increasingly, rogue states. Criminal and terrorist activity is moving off the streets and into cyberspace and to face up to the challenges law enforcement agencies need to face up to five game changers.

Firstly, police and law enforcement agencies must develop new ways of operating in cyberspace that can adapt to the way in which we are all becoming more open about our identities and how businesses prize trading and communicating at speed, and high volume over security which inevitably slows processes down. Business will today accept short term losses provided that in the long term systems are able to keep serving the market.  The technology platforms and legislation to enable police to operate in this future environment need to be considered, designed and tested today, for implementation tomorrow. 

The second game changer is the growth of a ‘dirty’ cyber space. This means increasing willingness by criminals and rogue states to respond to attacks on the police’s attempts to interrupt their activities by attacking the systems on which the police rely. In the real world police are equipped with bullet proof clothing. They need to ensure that their systems are equally protected from attacks in cyberspace. This applies equally to other law enforcement and global institutions. We have already seen how North Korea has increased the risk of a nuclear conflict by deploying this deniable cyber -attack strategy on critical South Korean infrastructure.

The third game changer is for police to pre-empt the cyber dominated future by integrating further with other agencies and contributing to a truly distributed localised security architecture serviced by police alongside the security agencies, military and other emergency services.  Central to this is the development of technology platforms for fused intelligence allowing the strengths of each agency to be retained and deployed in real-time.

The fourth game changer is the technology to do this which includes big data and Artificial Intelligence.

The fifth game changer is the blurring of policing identity. Given an increasing dependence on technology driven operations, cross boundary and cross border working and the delivery of policing through cybespace, policing needs to retain the identity and skills inherited from previous generations. Retaining their identity as the front line of protecting citizens from crime is essential for trust to be maintained and for the police, public and industry to work together to pre-empt threats from crime, terrorism and hostile nation states.

The rewards of rapid recognition of these game changers could be technological wisdom and balanced policing that works successfully with other agencies to outstrip organised crime, pre-empt devastating terror plots and assist in mounting barriers to sophisticated nation state attacks.  Planning now is an opportunity for the police to empower, enable and deliver an increasingly pre-emptive crime fighting force that will protect the public and retain its trust.

Download the full paper.

Posted by: Dr Sally Leivesley

Sally is managing director of the corporate risk management consultancy Newrisk.


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Posted by: Dr Sally Leivesley

Sally is managing director of the corporate risk management consultancy Newrisk.