Immigration minister James Brokenshire, until recently security minister at Whitehall, has laid out the challenge ahead for the National Crime Agency (NCA), in an exclusive interview with Computing.
The NCA replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in October last year. Often known as the British version of the FBI, it has an annual budget of just under £500m.
Computing: How will the NCA differ from SOCA? What is its remit as regards cyber security?
James Brokenshire: The NCA is leading in the fight against the most serious and organised cyber criminals.
The NCA has a broader mission than SOCA, covering economic crime, border security, child exploitation, cyber crime and organised crime.
It also has the power to directly task other police forces to take action and produces the single, authoritative threat picture – a threat assessment based on input from all partners.
The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) specialises on cyber crime and has brought together specialists from the Police Central e-Crime Unit in the Metropolitan Police Service and SOCA Cyber to create expert technical, tactical intelligence and investigation teams.
It has the capability to respond in fast time to rapidly changing threats and collaborates with partners to reduce cyber and cyber-enabled crime by:
providing a powerful and highly visible investigative response to the most serious incidents of cyber crime: pursuing cyber criminals at a national and international level;
working proactively to target criminal vulnerabilities and prevent criminal opportunities;
assisting the NCA and wider law enforcement to prevent cyber-enabled crime and pursue those who utilise the internet or ICT for criminal means;
driving a step-change in the UK’s overall capability to tackle cyber and cyber-enabled crime, supporting partners in industry and law enforcement to better protect themselves against the threat from cyber crime
Using the NCA’s single intelligence picture, the NCCU works with partners to identify and understand the growing use of cyber as an enabler across all crime types. It can then determine the most effective ways of tackling the threat. It encourages the mainstreaming of cyber investigative capability and dedicated operational support on cyber and cyber-enabled crime.
Computing: Why was the Metropolitan Police’s PCeU (Police Central e-Crime Unit) closed down recently?
Brokenshire: The PCeU was absorbed into the NCCU with the establishment of the NCA in October 2013.
We recognise the importance of protecting people and businesses, which is why the government launched a major awareness and behavioural change campaign in January called Cyber StreetWise.
This campaign is aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of cyber threats among individuals and small business, and improving the security measures they use to protect themselves.