Technology has made a significant impact on police work and law enforcement – from improving offender monitoring to securely protecting witnesses and victim statements. However, just as technology helps police forces to uphold the law, that doesn’t make their IT systems immune from potential cyberattacks. 

As such, it is just as important for law enforcement agencies to take the time to assess their own cybersecurity processes – especially given indications that cyberattacks on such agencies may be on the rise.

This is just one of the themes that members of the law enforcement and criminal justice sector including prosecutors and victim support workers can expect to discuss at the upcoming Digital Justice & Policing event in Glasgow on October 13. 

While the overarching focus of the day will be on digital policies and strategic developments which are undoubtedly transforming the sector, delegates will also have the opportunity to participate in a micro exercise scenario of the National Cyber Security Centre’s ‘Exercise in a Box’ programme. 

The session will be practical, giving participants the chance to further their cyber knowledge and identify areas of improvement in their own organisations’ IT defences. As with the ‘Exercise in a Box’ masterclass, it will provide an opportunity to test responses to a cyberattack in a real-life scenario without putting any data at risk. 

It will also consider the role that an individual plays in keeping a system secure, as well as organisational policies, with topics including connecting securely when working remotely; ensuring password security; identifying phishing emails; and responding to a ransomware attack. 

Police forces and criminal justice organisations hold important and sensitive data including victim statements and case evidence which, if compromised, could have a massive impact on trials – not to mention individuals’ privacy. Cyberattacks could also significantly impede frontline workers’ ability to do their jobs, for example blocking access to criminal histories during traffic stops or taking down 999 services completely.

As technology’s role in law enforcement grows, it is likely that justice-related organisations will continue to face ransomware attempts and other cyber attacks. With trust and confidence in police reportedly on the decline, it is incumbent on them to do everything they can to keep their systems secure and running. 

The masterclass will also explore attacks within the supply chain and how they can impact an organisation. The phishing attack on ICT service provider Dacoll in 2021 – which gave officers throughout the UK remote access to the PNC and supports the ANPR system – impacted law enforcement services throughout the UK, reminding them of the importance of keeping a secure supply chain. 

For frontline officers, who will have seen first-hand the impact of cyber crime on individuals and organisations, the workshop is a unique opportunity to gain insight into protection and prevention as it relates to their own systems and take the first step towards securing the data they hold. 

Declan Doyle, head of ethical hacking at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, will facilitate the session which is open to all attending the Digital Justice & Policing event.