Security experts slam Soca job cuts

Security experts slam Soca job cuts

Greatly increased threat to UK business

Cutting jobs at the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) will threaten UK businesses, according to security experts.

The Soca task force is expected to lose around 400 staff when the Home Office announces its policing budget later this week. Many of the job losses are likely to be in IT research.

However, Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos, said that the organisation needs more, not fewer, resources.

"Cyber-crime fighting authorities like Soca need more, not less investment if computer users are hoping to have a safer internet community," she said.

"Cyber-crime is an international concern, as hackers and cyber-criminals are hiding in all corners of the world to avoid getting caught.

"These authorities need adequate resources to work with other countries in order to track down these criminals."

Eldar Tuvey, chief executive and co-founder of ScanSafe, pointed to the exposure of 45 million credit details at TK Maxx, and the loss of 25 million personal records at HM Revenue & Customs, as examples of the need to clamp down on a growing illegal data market.

"Given the frequency of such large-scale data vulnerabilities, we expect to see a growing underground market for confidential personal information," he said.

"We predict an increase in the selling and servicing of stolen contact databases, mimicking what is seen in 'legitimate' data warehousing."

Tuvey added that there is plenty of security technology out there to help companies protect against data theft or loss, but that this does not let the government off the hook.

"The government must play a vital role in helping to educate UK businesses on safeguarding personal information, and ensure that the last line of defence, i.e. organisations like Soca, have adequate resources to enforce cyber-crime laws."

Sal Viveros, security analyst at McAfee, said it is difficult to speculate on the effect that the job cuts will have on UK consumers and businesses until there are more details.

"However, this is not to say that cyber-crime and cyber-attacks are not still a very prevalent threat," he said.

"Government agencies and businesses will continue to be targeted and should remain prepared for new attacks."

Theriault said that cyber-crime is booming, and that 2007 saw more threats than the past 20 years put together.

"Soca needs to provide a place where UK citizens affected by malicious threats can report their experiences and their losses," she said.

"With most threats today intent on stealing confidential information, it is vital for the UK to provide a reporting system to log victims' complaints."

Leading security experts recently started an online petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the establishment of a police division devoted exclusively to electronic crime.