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New Abertay game to boost cybercrime-fighting

19 September 2016

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Scotland’s ability to combat cybercrime could be massively boosted thanks to a unique partnership between Abertay University, Police Scotland and private company Droman Crime Solutions.

The partnership has developed a ‘serious game’ that can train very large numbers of criminal justice staff in basic techniques to deal efficiently with cybercrime.

Playable on a tablet, smartphone or desktop computer, the prototype game allows users to enter and interact with a virtual environment where they have to make decisions about the application of legislation and police powers.

In the game, trainees have to move around a virtual apartment finding possible evidence and answering questions about legislation and legal procedures.

The game teaches them how to recognise and secure different networked and isolated digital devices, securing vital evidence that could be lost if the device is not handled properly.

Users also learn how to assess the need for more expert support and provide advice and help to victims.

And because it’s a computer game, it can be easily and quickly updated to reflect changes in technology, helping users to maintain their skills in an environment that can change in hours rather than years.

The partners believe the game is more efficient, in terms of both cost and time, than traditional training techniques and provides real-time information on the current skills and capacity of an organisation. 

Uniquely, it will also be independently accredited so that all successful students will benefit from a professional development award.

Paddy Tomkins, chairman of Droman Crime Solutions, said:  “Cybercrime continues to be a top-level threat to the UK generally and has the potential to disrupt commerce, public services and international confidence.

“Thanks to funding from Interface, we have spent over a year working with our partners in Abertay University and Police Scotland to develop this new learning tool.

“Our innovation has the potential to ensure that communities across Scotland are served by appropriately trained, skilled and confident police officers and staff.”

The game was developed by a small group of Abertay experts, Dr Natalie Coull, Dr Ian Ferguson and Dr Iain Donald, with funding from Interface.

Dr Iain Donald, lecturer in games production at Abertay, commented:  “We specifically designed this as a game-based solution to the challenge of training thousands of police personnel who might be the first responders to an incident of cybercrime by telephone or scene visit.

“Currently, as evidenced by various inspection reports, UK criminal justice organisations experience significant difficulties in providing mainstream training to large numbers of their operational front-line staff.”

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