National roll-out for police-led ‘alarm’ to combat cyber threats

The national roll-out of a new tool to help businesses protect themselves against cyber attacks has been described as a “great example of what can be achieved when policing and private industry work together”.

Nov 23, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Commissioner Ian Dyson

Funded by the Home Office, Police CyberAlarm acts like a ‘CCTV camera’, monitoring the traffic seen by a business connection to the internet. It will detect and provide regular reports of suspected malicious activity, enabling a business to take steps to improve its cyber resilience.

It will also provide police with a “richer intelligence picture” about current and emerging threats.

Following a pilot in four regions across England and Wales, the National Cybercrime Programme announced today (November 23) that the police-led tool will now be made available free to businesses and organisations in the remaining regions.

The national roll-out is expected to be completed over the next two months and will help businesses better understand and monitor the malicious cyber activity they face.

City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for cybercrime said: “Police CyberAlarm is a great example of what can be achieved when policing and private industry work together. We have been able to work with a partner to develop a tool which every business in England and Wales can benefit from. Any business or organisation with a computer network can sign up for free and join the growing network of Police CyberAlarm members.

“We know that the average cost of a cyber attack to a small business is around £11,000 and we know that there are thousands of successful attacks every day. Cyber security should be a priority for every single business no matter how big or small that business is. This is a police-led project, which businesses can trust. There is no catch to signing up, it is being offered for free and we want to get as many businesses as possible across England and Wales involved.”

He added: “The more members we have, the more data we get, which will provide law enforcement with a much richer intelligence picture about the current and emerging threats businesses are facing. The data will also be presented back to members in the form of regular reports to help them take steps to improve their cyber security. I would urge businesses to sign up and take advantage of all Police CyberAlarm has to offer.”

Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “Following successful initial trials this national roll-out couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. Police CyberAlarm is a crucial tool that will keep businesses across the nation safe online.”

Once a business or organisation becomes a Police CyberAlarm member, a ‘virtual server’ will collect and process traffic logs identifying suspicious activity from the firewall.

The National Cybercrime Programme says Police CyberAlarm does not see any of the network content but monitors the logs relating to the traffic to identify suspicious activity. It is designed to protect personal data, trade secrets and intellectual property.

As a Police CyberAlarm member, businesses and organisations, including public, private and third sector, will benefit from regular reports detailing suspicious and potentially malicious attack activity on their firewall/internet gateway. It will then show them how they are being attacked, and where from, so they can improve their cyber resilience. It will also help law enforcement identify current threats and act against cyber criminals.

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