Police forces are not prepared to deal with major cyber attacks and remain vulnerable to this emerging crime as their resource pool dwindles, it has been claimed.
Analyst James Stuart said that the Police Service is lagging behind organised criminals, who are becoming increasingly adept at using sophisticated technology to deliver devastating attacks.
While a cyber crime unit has been created under the National Crime Agency, Mr Stuart highlighted that only three of the 43 forces had plans to deal with full-scale attacks.
Mr Stuart told the Counter Terror Expo: â€œThis is meant with no disrespect to our police colleagues around the country who are having to deal with issues around resources.
â€œIt seems extraordinary that everybody has heard of cyber crime, but I would ask how many organisations, countries and people are actually really prepared for it?
He added that the most sophisticated terrorists could use a cyber attack to shut down vital elements of infrastructure, including water and power supplies. He warned that as the sophistication of hackers increased, the effects could be catastrophic.
Mr Stuart added that the UK government needs to ensure it works more closely with other countries to tackle this international problem.
He said: â€œThis is the 21st Century and the fact is that you no longer have to defeat and army on the battlefield to win a war â€“ you no longer need to use shock and awe.â€
Neil Kenward, Director of the Cyber Security Programme at the Cabinet Office, told PoliceOracle.com that steps were being taken to ensure there was an awareness of cyber crime among officers and staff at all levels in the Police Service.
Mr Kenward said the National Cyber Crime Unit was providing a â€œfantastic capabilityâ€ and the government had underpinned the fight against criminals with more than Â£200 million in the coming 12 months alone.
Mr Kenward added: â€œThere are also now nine regional centres around the country.â€
â€œAs for officers, we do not expect them to be trained as cyber security experts but forces are now providing cyber awareness training â€“ this will ensure that, it they get a call about an issue then they will know who to put the call through to.â€
From Police Oracle