Private industry group leaps into the cybercrime fight

The International Cyber Security Protection Alliance will help train law enforcement

A consortium of eight companies launched a campaign on Tuesday to provide better training for law enforcement agencies in order to tackle cybercrime, which costs the U.K. economy tens of billions of pounds annually.

The group, called the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA), represents private industry's response to cybercrime, which has exceeded the capacity of law enforcement to contain, said John Lyons, the organization's CEO.

Governments are diverting their funding to protect their critical national infrastructure against cyberattacks, which leaves less to protect private businesses, Lyons said. Law enforcement in many countries lacks the training and skills to conduct difficult investigations, he said.

The ICSPA will particularly focus on countries where a high number of cyberattacks originate. Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communication at Trend Micro, said countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Brazil are well-known for computer crime, with other locales such as China often host servers used to stage attacks.

In addition to training, the ICSPA will work with academia to establish a standard by which law enforcement officers could be accredited for learning cybercrime fighting skills. The organization will also seek to promote information sharing between entities that collect data on cybercrime and also promote best practices within the industry.

The ICSPA has also secured a partnership with Europol, a pan-Europe law enforcement organization that investigates organized crime and terrorism. The two organizations will work to harmonize law enforcement training and put a renewed focus on computer-related crime, Lyons said.

Over the next five years, the U.K. government will invest £650 million (US$1 billion) into protecting critical national infrastructure, with £63 million of that dedicated to fighting cybercrime, said James Brokenshire, the Home Office's minister for crime and security. Cybercrime costs the U.K. economy £27 billion annually, he said.

"This is a colossal sum," Brokenshire said. The victims of cybercriminals are "each and every one of us."

Brokenshire said it is key that governments work together, particularly so that there are no "safe havens" where cybercriminals can operate.

The U.K. government will soon release a cybercrime strategy that will focus on raising public awareness and pursuing international partnerships designed to tackle the cross-border nature of online attacks, Brokenshire said.

David Blunkett, a member of Parliament and chair of the ICSPA, said that the public has seen how cybercrime is increasingly affecting very large-scale businesses. "I think the last six months have dealt a blow to the skeptics that there was an exaggeration taking place," he said.

The ICSPA's membership so far consists of McAfee, Cassidian, Trend Micro, Visa Europe, Core Security Technologies, Yodel, Transactis and the Shop Direct Group. Lyons said the ICSPA intends to grow the membership.

The ICSPA is funded in part by its members, but Lyons said the group plans to approach the European Union for more funding as well as the governments of the U.S., U.K. and others.

Lyons contends that there is enough existing funds dedicated to fighting cybercrime, but that those funds could be diverted to projects that would have a greater impact on Internet crime. He said he would be pleased if the ICSPA could get €5 million within 18 months.

"We are not looking for new money here," Lyons said.

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