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New South Wales' top cybercrime cop talks to Vulture South

Beat cops with l33t skills will team with outsiders to bolster slim fraud squad

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

AusCERT It seems odd that a veteran hard-nosed, clean-cut cop who cut teeth fighting triads and outlaw bikie gangs across Sydney would apply for a job running the state's cybercrime police division, and even more bizarre that he would get it.

But sometime in his younger years before the then champion bodybuilder would oversee investigations into the trafficking of firearms, drugs and the infamous Cronulla race riots of 2005, Arthur Katsogiannis studied information security.

It was a long time ago, the newly-minted commander of the Fraud and Cyber Crime Squad says, but it planted the seed that pushed him to apply for the job.

By stepping into what he says is the "powder keg" of cybercrime, "AK", as he is known among colleagues, acknowledges he has big shoes to fill.

He replaces the much lauded former head of fraud Col Dyson who wore the head of fraud and cybercrime hat for 35 years, predating the decision to add technology crime to the division's portfolio and outlasting any equivalent position in the country.

Dyson's exit came ahead of the imminent retirement of long-time fraud squad bod Bruce van der Graaf.

Katsogiannis appears largely unknown among the information security folks gathered ahead of the AusCERT security conference on the Gold Coast, while the name Dyson causes most heads to nod.

But he has plans to restock the force that might put him on the map.

"We want to go out and identify those officers with existing technology skills and bring them into the cybercrime squad," Katsogiannis tells El Reg the evening before the conference.

"Recruitment retention is an issue for us ... the private sector is luring them away and the money they are willing to pay makes it hard for us to compete.

"Having the technical expertise from unsworn people to provide direction to investigators is the key ... We'll need to look to increase pay packets for those with tech skills [to compete with] the private sector."

Doing so would address two major issues facing state police forces around the country; a lack of funding to train police in the art of cyber crime investigations, and the cash to stop what has been a steady hemorrhaging of all but the die hard cops to the lucrative private sector.

Katsogiannis will also establish a cybercrime support unit to promote awareness throughout the force and the community.

He says Australia has fallen behind the eight ball in its fight against cybercrime and needs to follow the lead of the US with agencies such as the Postal Service cashed-up for a crusade against crackers, VXers and carders in recent years.

While he says any officer will tell you their own division could do with a more money from Government coffers, Katsogiannis says it is needed in order to fight what he says is the sophisticated, already large and still growing cybercrime threat.

He fears it may take a major cybercrime incident in Australia for the resources to be made available to police.

The commander says organised criminal gangs have already moved some of their activities online, but that conventional crime will remain public enemy number one for some time. ®

Darren Pauli travelled to AusCERT as a guest of Dell.

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