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cash boost Gardaí get €500,000 tech and recruits to combat cybercrime


Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary

Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary

Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA will attack cybercrime in the new year with a massive investment in state-of-the-art technology and additional staff dedicated to the fight.

A decryption suite, which cost an estimated €500,000, will be at the forefront of the campaign and will hugely reduce the amount of time spent by technical experts on cracking locked devices.

The suite is almost ready for use by the Garda's National Cybercrime Bureau, which has been boosted by the recruitment of an additional 59 officers.

The officers were taken on after an internal competition and they will fill vacancies at detective ranks ranging from garda up to inspector.

They include gardaí with Master's degrees in computer science, allied to investigative experience - which was deemed to be an essential component of the required skill-set to join the bureau.

A further additional 20 civilian experts are being recruited from technology companies in the private sector and from universities.

They are set to work in the digital forensics and cybercrime investigations sections and will undergo training in the new year.

According to the specifications outlined in the tender documents, the suite will be able to decrypt locked devices by inputting millions of passwords every hour until it has been successful.

The process will vary, depending on the device being examined.

The purchase was made after inquiries were made across the world to find the most suitable technology for the bureau - which was set up by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris last July - and it is said to be in line with the best international standards.

The cybercrime unit had previously been part of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau but in line with the recommendations from the Future of Policing Commission, which marked it as a top priority.

It was upgraded and Mr Harris appointed newly promoted chief superintendent Paul Cleary - who had been heavily involved in investigative successes achieved in tackling the Kinahan-Hutch feud - as the first bureau head.

Average computers are capable of holding 250,000 photos, 500 hours of films and 6.5 million documents, and one case under investigation could involve 30 or more devices.

The time used to examine all of these devices will be slashed with the help of the new equipment and according to Det Chief Supt Cleary, the technology will provide a significant boost to the work of the bureau.

Many of the detectives are already highly skilled and one of them has been seconded to a position with Europol's Cybercrime Centre, which was set up in 2013 to strengthen the law enforcement response.

Det Chief Supt Cleary said the officers attracted to the bureau not only had a flair for that type of work, but are prepared to "go the extra mile".