A new digital forensics hub in Grand Cayman will help tackle increasingly sophisticated cybercrooks both here and across the Overseas Territories.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said Cayman and other territories were currently ill equipped to deal with the growing threat. He said the new hub, part funded by the UK government, would help address a skills and equipment shortage.

He said police have been working with the UK National Crime Agency, and will open the new lab in Grand Cayman in July. He said each of the overseas territories would have a ‘spoke’ to deal with more routine cybercrimes, but the Cayman Islands will have the manpower and the technology to take the lead on more complex cases.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service currently has five staff with relevant qualifications, or in existing training programmes, and will be recruiting up to four new employees later this year.

Byrne said the expertise of police officers has to keep up with that of the criminals they are trying to catch.

“There is no point sending a detective into a room with someone very cyber savvy if they don’t understand it,” he said.

“The traditional police officer with a notebook and pen still has a place in policing … but the digital age moves us in a different direction.

“We are looking at more people with cyberforensics capability or cyber investigative capability.”

Cybercrime can range from phishing scams and complex wire fraud investigations to child pornography or cyberbullying investigations.

Byrne said cyberforensics officers were trained in tracing internet protocol addresses, finding hidden files on computers and devices and handling digital crime scenes. He said devices had become more complex and more varied and officers needed to follow international standards to ensure any evidence retrieved was admissible in court.

“Years ago it was a small computer, now it can be a one terabyte USB stick,” he added.

“We have to examine it forensically using international standards so we can hold it up in court and say we seized your computer, your laptop, your phone, we didn’t interfere with it, we extracted the information and built our case that way.”

He said a location had been identified for the hub and it should begin operating late summer.

The Cayman Islands is also working with the UK National Crime Agency to be the lead for the overseas territories in child protection work, he added.

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