Microsoft: Police e-crime unit 'giant step forward'

The company's chief UK security adviser says the Police Central e-Crime Unit will provide businesses with a reporting mechanism for low-level e-crime

The Police Central e-Crime Unit has been hailed as a "giant step forward" by Microsoft's UK security adviser, Ed Gibson.

Speaking at a press event at the RSA Conference Europe 2008 on Tuesday, Gibson said businesses had perceived that there had been nowhere to go to report "low-level" computer crime, after the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) was amalgamated into the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in 2006.

"Soca's remit is serious and organised crime, and the perception was that there was a lack of reporting mechanism," Gibson said. "A big slice of [e-crime] is routine. There is now a reporting mechanism for those crimes."

Gibson said that Soca had not been able to communicate with businesses in the same way as the NHTCU, due to the nature of Soca's work. This had led to a perception that low-level internet crime was not being dealt with. Gibson said that the unit's creation would "send a signal to organised crime that things will no longer be as easy as they were".

Ex-FBI agent Gibson gave advice to the House of Lords when it was formulating its first Personal Internet Security report, which came out in August 2007. The report recommended the formulation of an e-crime unit to replace NHTCU.

Earlier this month, British businesses questioned whether the £7m Police Central e-Crime Unit would be able to help tackle a global e-crime industry worth an estimated £105bn. Gibson said that the signal sent to organised crime was more important than the amount of government funding available, but added that funding issues may affect whether the unit could be based in the City of London.

"Part of the difficulty is budget," Gibson said. "If they move into the City, they have to pay a premium."

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