E-crime experts reserve judgement on Soca

E-crime experts reserve judgement on Soca

The "British FBI" has said it will continue to focus on e-crimes against business

Tony Neate, e-crime liaison at the newly formed Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), said in his keynote speech at the Infosec security expo last week that the new organisation will be able to combat IT crime better than its predecessor, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU).

“The future is looking brighter because people are prepared to talk about [security breaches] now,” he explained. “The NHTCU has not gone away, we are now part of an organisation with four other arms... we’re getting cleverer and will still be there to support business and consumers - rumours of [our] death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Regional police forces, which will be expected to form the first point of call for firms wishing to report incidents, are also being given extra resources to help them cope with high-tech crime, he added.

But speaking to IT Week at the same event, keynote speaker Lord Erroll, Sir Merlin Hay, said he was concerned that firms may now be discouraged from disclosing information about attacks on their networks.

“It will be interesting to see how [Soca] beds down,” he said. “The people in it are good, but it worries me that new police agencies are being set up with huge powers but outside the Police Act – I’d like to see more democratic accountability.”

Also at the event, IT chiefs spoke about the need for organisations to be open about disclosing attacks on their systems.

Peter Pederson, chief technology officer of online betting firm Blue Square, said the best approach is to “stand shoulder to shoulder with” law enforcers and to keep customers informed.

“Customers welcomed our honesty and applauded our willingness to come forward, although [security breach disclosure] legislation would be useful to put us on an even keel,” he explained. “We’ll wait and see if [our relationship with law enforcers] changes [with the creation of Soca] but I think we’ll work with them in the same way.”

Director of technical security at Barclays Capital, Stephen Bonner, also said that firms wouldn’t be overly discouraged by the disappearance of the NHTCU’s Confidentiality Charter. He added that Soca should be better able to handle cases.