High-Tech Crime Unit snubs Infosec

Cybercops are too busy training to attend the UK's biggest computer security conference

The British government's new force for combating computer hackers -- the National High-Tech Computer Crime Unit (NHTCU) -- has turned down the opportunity to represent itself at a roundtable held at the UK's top conference on computer security, to the consternation of the event's organiser.

While representatives from the Unit defend the decision not to attend on grounds that the department is still in its infancy, some experts says it has missed a vital chance to represent itself and speak with industry.

Bob Ayers, an ex-US government security consultant who now works for a UK-based computer security firm and is a speaker at the event, organised the round-table discussion to examine the most significant threats posed by computer hackers to UK businesses for Thursday. Ayers invited the NHTCU to represent itself at the discussion. It declined the chance, claiming it was too busy with training to attend.

Ayers said he is frustrated by the decision. "I find it a little disconcerting that the two organisations on which there rest a great deal of hope can't even stand up and announce what they are going to do," he said. "Ultimately it is destructive if they're trying to form a close relationship with industry."

A spokeswoman for the NHTCU said that the Unit regrets being unable to make the show. "This is obviously a good opportunity," she said. "We very much wanted to be a part of it but unfortunately the Unit is very much in its infancy." She confirmed that this week senior NHTCU representatives are on an important training course. "It's not going to happen overnight. It'll take about six months to get some action."

Other security experts are more resigned to the fact that the NHTCU will take time to mature. Stephen Allen, director of iJA International, a computer investigations company, said the creation of the NHTCU will help combat computer criminals. "It is commendable," he said. "The crime squads are getting their act together and, if they can get it right, it will be a great boon for business."

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