Police are planning to collaborate with industry by opening police computer forensics training to IT professionals.
University College Dublin and Troyes University of Technology in France will be the first to open their doors as part of an EU-funded pilot that is to be extended across the Continent.
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BCS, the chartered institute for IT, has begun preparations for police and industry to train together in the UK, with 20 universities showing early interest.
Cheryl Baker, administrator at the Centre for Cyber Crime Investigations at University College Dublin, said industry would help the college develop training programmes and the police course materials would be shared in return.
"We have always been law-enforcement-only," said Baker. "But we are opening our doors to industry, to see how they can support us and how we can support them," she said.
Nigel Jones, who as co-founder will oversee the scheme, said universities often asked the police to help develop cyber crime courses, but were typically rebuffed because police didn't want to reveal their forensic secrets.
The secrecy was "a load of old nonsense", said Jones, who established the UK's first computer forensics training centre for the E-Crime Unit in 2001.
"And the stance law enforcement take with industry is, 'we can't talk to industry because they'll steal our ideas', which is also nonsense.
"Law enforcement says to industry, 'we believe you should behave in a particular way to preserve evidence for investigations'. So it's incumbent on law enforcement to share information with industry," said Jones.
Jean-Christophe Le Toquin, director for internet safety at Microsoft, who was instrumental in bringing the idea to fruition, said he hoped it would encourage culture of police co-operation to form in industry.
"Industry experts are not paid and have not been educated to share information with law enforcement. They could not care less about securing evidence that could be useful for investigations," he said.
Industry engineers were usually more interested in wiping machines clean to eradicate infections and get them quickly back in productive use than in securing evidence, said Le Toquin.
He hoped the result of closer police and industry co-operation would be more hacking and fraud convictions. "You don't have many sophisticated hackers and hardcore criminals who are arrested and sent to jail," he said. "We are struggling to arrest the high-end hackers."
The European Commission awarded €4m to the pilot scheme, called the Cyber Crime Centres of Excellence Network for Training (or 2 Centre), in January. UCD plans to use the money to grow its increase its output of police training materials, research and forensic tools, as well as operating the 2 Centre pilot and seeding satellite ventures such as the one being spearheaded in the UK.
Canterbury Christ Church and Shrivenham Royal Military College playing are playing leading parts in formulating the UK's proposal for a network of centres. Satellite schemes would apply for their own funding once the model had been proven.