UCD to lead EU initiative for training cyber cops

1 Jun 2011

Ireland is spearheading an EU initiative aimed at tackling cyber crime, with the selection of UCD’s Centre for Cybercrime Investigation as a centre of excellence in a €4m project backed by the European Commission.

The Cybercrime Centres of Excellence Network for Training, Research and Education, or 2Centre, is part of an EC strategy to safeguard governments, businesses and citizens from cyber crime. UCD has been designated as the network lead for training, research and education. A second centre of excellence has been established in France, between the Université de Technologie de Troyes and Université de Montpellier.

Experts based at UCD’s Centre for Cybercrime Investigation (CCI) will conduct research into key cyber crime topics, provide software and hardware computer forensics tools for law enforcement cyber-crime investigators, and develop and deliver training programmes combining classroom and online modules for police officers. All of these will be available free of charge to law enforcement.

The project was announced yesterday by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, TD, who said 20 new jobs would be created, of which 14 would be based at UCD. It’s envisaged that “The 2Centre” initiative will create a network of centres of excellence across Europe to tackle current and emerging cyber threats.

UCD’s selection comes as little surprise to seasoned watchers in the cyber security sector. It has been working with An Garda Síochána since the late Nineties to manage projects like training police forces across the EU in cyber-crime investigation techniques. More than 1,000 officers have taken exams at the college to date.

Cyber crime-fighting skills

Prof Joe Carthy, head of UCD’s CCI, said yesterday’s development acknowledges the expertise in cyber-crime investigation that has built up in Ireland spanning academia, science and law enforcement. “What was once the task of specialist national police squads, cyber-crime investigation has become part of the workload of regional police forces and even individual districts,” he said. “To effectively investigate cyber crimes, the investigator needs a set of special skills, such as methods of classic computer forensics, live computer forensics, and specific tactics of cyber-crime investigation.”

Earlier this year, Carthy called for a national cyber security centre of expertise that would both respond to cyber attacks and be a focal point for collaboration between academia, industry players and law enforcement. 2Centre appears to tick many of those boxes, as it also has the backing of Microsoft, Thales, the Irish Banking Federation, Aconite Internet Solutions, INFACT and eBay.

Carthy also spoke of the need for Europe-wide action on cyber-crime prevention and detection in light of incidents like the cyber attack on the computer systems of the EU Commission and Parliament last March. His remarks were echoed by the minister, who added: “Internet-facilitated organised crime today has shown unprecedented mobility and dynamism and operates on a scale which places substantial and increasing demands on our law-enforcement agencies. The global nature of this type of criminality and the capabilities of criminal groups requires highly responsive and internationally co-ordinated measures.”

The minister also said Ireland would ratify the Budapest Convention, otherwise known as the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime. The Department of Justice is preparing of a Criminal Justice (Cybercrime) Bill. The Bill will create a range of offences relating to information systems and data, including illegally accessing a system, interference with systems or data and illegal interception of data. Offences will also be created in relation to hacker tools used for the commission of these offences, he said.

Any legislative requirements arising from the new EU Directive on Attacks Against Information Systems, which is now being negotiated, would be added into the bill, the minister said.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic