Bedfordshire Police’s new Cyber Security Advisor Sean O’Neil is a former senior investigating officer who for the past three years has utilised his investigative background in the business sector with a large ecommerce company.
With a wealth of experience in the business arena and 30 years’ police service under his belt, Sean’s mission is now to provide cyber security advice to businesses throughout Bedfordshire.
I am an investigator at heart.
I investigate issues which cause problems in the community, whether that be extortions, kidnaps or even murders. In the ecommerce industry I started to work on reputational issues, still making use of those policing skills to find out who might be attacking the company externally.
Working in ecommerce, the crimes I was looking at and liaising with police on were all enabled by a computer. I had to learn advanced systems really quickly and soon realised the scale of this type of criminality.
This type of crime is a world away from the offences you see happening on the street. Offenders can be sophisticated, carrying out millions of pounds’ worth of frauds by barely lifting a finger.
I have seen things from both sides and want to use my experiences to go out to the business community and help them – help them to prepare so that they don’t become a victim of a cyber attack, and to help advise them and rectify the situation if they already have.
For me, being Cyber Security Advisor is an ideal role. We have a wealth of small and medium-sized enterprises, large businesses and multinational companies with their base in Bedfordshire.
The area has a rich history of industry.
These companies, just like policing, have had to adapt to the digital age and therefore we are all at risk of cyber crime.
In Bedfordshire we are also lucky in that we have an incredible educational landscape with universities and colleges, as well as three local authorities and countless community groups with an interest in cyber safety.
These groups could be the cyber protect advisors of the future.
As each younger generation grows they bring with them a wider understanding of cyber capabilities and if we harness that we can continue the fight against digital crime.
My main aim is to encourage businesses to share information among themselves – this can be a real taboo, as understandably there is an element of competition, and of course there are reputational concerns at stake.
Sometimes larger scale frauds can seem like a victimless crime. But this is not the case.
The growing threat of cyber crime has cost billions to the UK economy, which we all work towards.
Additionally innocent customers’ data can be compromised purely by association to a company – unfortunately we see incidents like this all the time as cyber criminals become more and more advanced.
This area of crime is not new, as cyber crime has in fact been around a while. But this role is exciting. It will allow me to share my knowledge for the benefit of businesses and individuals in Bedfordshire.
It is acknowledged that industry is vastly under-reporting cyber attacks and frauds committed against their companies. This needs to change.
Bedfordshire Police has a team of investigators who are capable and driven to investigate these matters and my role is to encourage businesses to confidently report cyber attacks to the Cyber Hub, and allow them to trace the offenders responsible.
It’s often said in the cyber investigation world that there are businesses which know they’ve been victim of cyber attack, and the businesses that have been attacked but don’t know it.
I want to make sure your business is neither.