Police deficiencies put SMEs at risk of attack

An influential lobbying group is urging the government to give local police forces the resources and training to help small businesses tackle computer crime

An influential lobbying group is urging the government to give local police forces the resources and training to help small businesses tackle computer crime.

Eurim, a group of business people and MPs from all parties, is concerned that police forces lack the expertise and manpower to help smaller companies track down hackers and Internet criminals.

Members of the group's Electronic Crime Working Party, which held its first meeting in the Commons last week, believe that government policy is leaving small firms in the lurch.

"It is a problem of money and it is a problem of political will," said Bill Morris, manager of policy and system integrity at BT's security group. "We need a centre of excellence at national level, but we need to have local police force computer crime units."

Although large companies can afford to create IT security departments to track down intruders, small and medium-sized companies have to rely on the police, who are often ill-equipped to help.

The group is concerned that the growing dependency on the Internet will mean that cyber-attacks on small companies could have knock-on effects for larger companies in the supply chain.

The National Criminal Intelligence Service is pressing the government for funds to start a national high-tech crime unit in April next year. Part of its remit will be to encourage local forces to develop their computer crime units.

But the proposals have drawn criticism from businesses who fear that local forces will be unwilling to spend money on computer crime, if this means less money for other areas of policing.

Eurim plans to brief MPs on the problems faced by small businesses and is expected to raise the issue with the G8 group of leading industrialised countries at a meeting on security next month.

Eurim has identified electronic identity theft as one of the most serious computer crime issues currently facing businesses. It has also voiced concern about the lack of co-ordination between countries introducing legislation that affects IT security.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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