Olympic Games cyber security: Cops not up to the job

UK lacks seasoned cyber security staff to police the games, warns Eurim...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

UK lacks seasoned cyber security staff to police the games, warns Eurim...

London 2012 Olympic Games: Eurim warns on cyber security of the games

The London 2012 Olympics: The UK's e-cops are not prepared for the cyber security challenge, says Eurim
Photo: Andy Miah

The UK's cyber security police are ill-equipped to deal with the influx of visitors and attention that will be generated by the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Philip Virgo, secretary general of parliamentary industry group the European Information Society Group (Eurim) has warned.

Speaking at a Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar on 'Skills for the UK Digital Economy' in London yesterday, Virgo said the UK's cybercrime police do not have the skills and experience required to successfully manage the cyber security risks of the Olympics. The Police Central E-crime Unit (PCeU) was made responsible for policing the cyber security of the Olympics in 2009.

"Testing for the systems serving the Olympic venues is underway. The security exercises for London as a whole are due to start in May but most of those now responsible for the cyber security of the UK are new in post and have yet to start thinking of the skills they're going to need in their teams," Virgo said.

"They're leaving it late in the day and I expect them to start panicking somewhere in the autumn."

"When they panic, I would like to work with [IT sector skills body] e-skills UK to turn the problem of multiple parallel crises into an opportunity to bring about long overdue change [in the training and upskilling of IT workers]," he added.

Virgo attacked the perennial reluctance of the public and private sectors to invest in training and upskilling of IT staff, warning that national funding cuts are making investing in skills more important than ever.

"If we don't give our existing workforce the skills in current demand and prepare our children to acquire the skills for the future, there will be nobody left in the wealth-creating UK-based jobs to fund the state or to pay pensions," he warned, adding: "The half-life of the technical skills in demand is down to little more than a year."

According to Virgo, a security stream will be added to e-skills UK's National Skills Academy for IT, with ongoing plans for it later this year.

"I'm hopeful that we'll be able to persuade financial services, law enforcement and government to share their needs as employers with universities," he said. "Success should help us change the way employers look at their choice between retraining and recruitment - and at helping programmes to enthuse and to educate the next generation about cyber security."

"We need to match the Russian and Chinese programmes for patriotic hackers," Virgo added. "We also need to correct the idea that to become a skilled cyber warrior you have to begin on the dark side. Instead, you should begin as cyber prefects - helping police the online playground, protecting the vulnerable against bullying and exploitation."

At the time of writing, PCeU had not responded to requests for comment.

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