Police officers across Scotland are heading back to class to brush up on tackling online crime.
In a UK first, detectives and police staff will take part in an advanced digital investigator course set up by cyber security experts at Napier University.
With increased concerns about e-crime, the one-week course will cover internet skills included tracing instant messaging, phishing attacks and capturing and analysing web traffic.
The training will keep officers up to date on the latest threats, aiming to improve the prevention and detection of crime, including relatively recent problems such as cyber-bullying and even cyber terrorism.
It is hoped the course will arm investigators with the ability to quickly gather electronic information to support investigations and help create safer virtual communities.
Run from the university’s cyber security lab, the course has been a year in the planning and the first officers are set to begin training today.
Professor Bill Buchanan, director of Edinburgh Napier’s Centre for Distributed Computing, Networks and Security, said: “We feel privileged to train these investigators as we can learn just as much from them as they do from us.
“If you’re investigating cyberbullying or online fraud, there will be a trail of information left on the internet and officers need to be able to put these pieces of information together.
“These days there’s also a lot more scope for cyber terrorism and Scotland is as much at risk as anywhere else. The police need to learn the methods that a criminal might use so they can stop it happening.
“You’re never going to stop every single crime, but the police need the skills to investigate incidents quickly and take steps to tackle people who are abusing the internet.”
Detective Superintendent Steven Wilson, Police Scotland’s Cybercrime lead, said the aim of the course was to ensure officers had the skills needed to keep communities safe in an age when so many aspects of everyday life are tied in to the internet.
He said: “The protection of Scottish communities in the virtual world is of key importance. Investigations in such a quickly evolving area present significant challenges to law enforcement and providing our officers with an in-depth understanding of cyber investigations is fundamental to the delivery of a quality service.
“This cooperation with Edinburgh Napier University has significant benefits for both parties and the learning from it will be equally beneficial to industry.
“Through cooperation between law enforcement, education and industry, we hope to make the internet a safer place for Scottish communities and businesses to thrive in.”