International cybersecurity alliance gets business backing

Businesses are backing an initiative to provide private sector training, expertise and equipment to help struggling overseas law enforcement agencies fight cybercrime.

Businesses are backing an initiative to provide private sector training, expertise and equipment to help struggling overseas law enforcement agencies fight cybercrime.

Visa Europe, McAfee and Trend Micro are among the organisations backing a proposed international alliance of businesses and police forces.

The International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA), which has support from Europol, aims to support law enforcement agencies in countries that lack the resources to fight cybercrime.

The initiative follows a series of high-profile hacking attacks over the past nine months, which have exposed businesses and government departments to losses and negative publicity.

It comes at a time when governments and police forces are facing unprecedented financial pressure, which is making cybercrime a lower priority than other types of crime, said ICSPA CEO John Lyons, a former officer at the National High Tech Crime unit.

Prime minister David Cameron welcomed the new organisation, saying the government had injected an additional £650m to protect the UK's national infrastructure against cybercrime.

The ICPSA, chaired by former home secretary David Blunkett, aims to raise funds of at least €1m a year to support law enforcement bodies in countries that lack resources to fight cybercrime. It is seeking financial support from the European Union, and the US, Canadian and Australian governments.

Sharing data protection and security expertise

Lyons, who previously ran the Get Safe Online initiative which raises awareness of internet security, said he was looking to businesses to share their expertise and resources with law enforcement.

"I want them to help with knowledge and information sharing, providing intelligence to law enforcement, and to provide expertise in training and accreditation," he said.

Visa Europe, one of the companies backing the ICSPA, said the company would make its experts in data protection, analysis and security available to police organisations.

"We have a very effective partnership with law enforcement across Europe and the rest of the world because of the way we deal with counterfeiting and fraud, attacks on systems and technology," said Colin Whitaker, head of payment system risk.

Visa faced high-profile cyber attacks from hacker group Anonymous last year.

"It was something were prepared for, but what was new was the area the attack came from," said Steve Wilson, head of Visa Europe's acceptable risk department. "It was not financially motivated, it was a different mode of attack. There was never a risk to our own or customers' data or operations. There was a risk of damage to our reputation."

Building global defences against cyber attack

Speaking at the launch of the new organisation, home office minister for crime and security, James Brokenshire, said the alliance would help to strengthen the UK's response to cybercrime.

"Cybercrime is a truly global problem and to tackle it we need strong partnerships across countries and cross public and private sectors," he said.

Prime minister David Cameron said: "By forging new relationships between business, governments and law enforcement all over the world, investing in new training and building an international exchange of expertise, the ICSPA is forming a network powerful enough and wide enough to face down cybercrime."

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