Monday 21 August 2017

Dr TJ McIntyre: Fight against cybercrime needs funding, not more words

'Today, almost every crime is a computer crime, in the sense that mobile phones, laptops and even devices such as game consoles are likely to contain evidence'
'Today, almost every crime is a computer crime, in the sense that mobile phones, laptops and even devices such as game consoles are likely to contain evidence'

Dr TJ McIntyre

Is the Irish policing system capable of tackling computer crime? A report this week from the Garda Inspectorate makes it clear that the answer is no. There is no Garda cybercrime unit, which is of serious concern given the threat posed by cybercrime to key national infrastructure such as energy, transport and telecommunications systems.

When computers are seized as part of an investigation, there have been up to four year delays before they are forensically examined - leaving offenders at large in the meantime and causing prosecutions to collapse. At a basic level, one in three gardaí do not have an email account and some stations still do not have access to the PULSE database.

This is particularly concerning as computer crime grows. Surveys show that Ireland is above the EU average for online crimes against individual users - in the most recent figures 16pc of Irish users reported their social media or email accounts being hacked and 9pc were the victim of identity theft. There are no comparable statistics for attacks against businesses, but the presence in Dublin of internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter makes it all the more important that the legal system should be able to deal with crimes attacking those companies and their users.

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