‘Spearphishing, smishing and whaling’ – we’re struggling to keep up, admits cyber cop
Police Scotland hope for co-operation between officers and business as it fights against a rising tide of automated and industrial hacking
New and constantly evolving forms of cybercrime have left Police Scotland “struggling” to keep up, one of its senior cyber officers has said.
Online and device-specific threats such as ‘spearphishing’, ‘smishing’ and ‘whaling’, coupled with existing cybercrime, have left officers facing a “significant investigative challenge”.
“What we are seeing, and I don’t like using the term ‘pandemic’ because that is a bit alarmist, but I would say what we are seeing now from these companies, organisations like DD4BC, you will see that they are using ransomware and DDOS, and cybercrime-as-a-service to target specific companies within jurisdictions,” said DI Eamonn Keane, of Police Scotland’s Specialist Crime Division.
Keane spoke to FutureScot ahead of the Scot Secure Cyber Security conference at Our Dynamic Earth on April 21, where he gave a talk on ‘being the hunter’.
He said it was almost impossible to quantify the totality of cyber-attacks faced by Scottish business as many go unreported. But he said there was a level of co-operation now between officers and business that was encouraging. “I’m delighted to say we’re getting much more traction and engagement from our business community and we’re here to support them,” he said.
However, he indicated that the multi-jurisdictional scale of hacking presents a considerable challenge to the force. “It’s on an automated and industrial scale,” he said. “There are new crimes – and we in Police Scotland, yes we are absolutely struggling. We face a significant investigative challenge and resources dealing with all aspects of cybercrime and social media abuse.”
Police Scotland has itself fallen victim to a “number of incidents where there have been intrusions” – and one individual arrested for attacking the force is due to come to court.
Keane also indicated that the level of boardroom attacks on ‘C-suite executives’ (chief-level in an enterprise) appeared to be on the rise – either through ‘social engineering’ (using open source online platforms to research and target potential victims), or through ransomware.
“The landscape would be that we have now a small but significant body of what we could call hacking teams they are now interested in looking at vulnerabilities in organisations.”
There have been recent calls from the Scottish Police Federation to create a dedicated ‘National Cyber Crime unit’ for Scotland. Keane declined to echo the calls from the policing union but said he supports the idea of closer, collaborative working with partners, particularly with business.
“We’ve got some fantastic defence technology in Scotland, the likes of Lockheed Martin and Sopra Steria – and we need that help to assist in policing sometimes,” he added.
Police Scotland is also working with global tech corporations to try and identify malicious code and “suck it out” of the internet, he said.
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…
Women Lead: The female-led company championing intuitive working
Over the last two years, the pandemic forced a shift to more remote and flexible working practices. Whilst we might be seeing a “return to normal”, some companies are choosing…
Women Lead: My passion for young people to consider a career in digital
Twenty years ago, I stumbled across my career in digital marketing almost by accident. It was during my honours degree in marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University. I was on work…
Women Lead: Inclusive Silicon Valley cohort gives hope to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds
Things are happening on the Scottish tech scene. Big and small initiatives are creating a fantastic ripple effect on the sector, bottom up and top down, thanks to the recommendations…
Women Lead: The story of an entrepreneurial scientist
I first arrived in Scotland over 20 years ago. I had £75 in my wallet and a scholarship offer to do a PhD at the University of Edinburgh. Sometimes I…
Please mind the gap… or healthcare may fall
Imagine sharing a lengthy train journey with others. From beginning to end, imagine how often you might hear ‘mind the gap’ messages about embarking and disembarking safely. Picture how navigating…
Women Lead: My journey from Dragons’ Den to Silicon Valley
Following her appearance on Dragons’ Den, Sheila Hogan, serial entrepreneur, founder and chief executive of digital legacy vault, Biscuit Tin, shares her experience of her time in the Den and…