LONDON (Bywire News) - In a jaw-dropping development, the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have fallen prey to cyber vandals. According to reports from Manchester Evening News thousands of ID badge details, including officers' names and pictures, have been swiped in a colossal online burglary. The hack was designed and targeted at a third-party supplier that GMP engaged for badge production.
This isn't just a random cyber sting either; it's a mirror image of the ransomware attack that beset the Metropolitan Police last month. It's a cardinal rule of any heist - the thief always comes back to the scene of the crime. Only in this case, the theatre of action is the digital sphere.
What we've learned from two trusted police insiders suggest nothing to cheer about, especially for the brigade of the boys and girls in blue. The hack holds the potential of leaking thousands of badges, effectively making a mockery of the police force's digital security.
On a brighter note, at present there's no reason to jump to conclusions that the breach included any financial or personal address data. Police forces across the UK are certainly hoping that this remains the case.
Fellow officers, especially those whose pictures contained geo-location data are recommended to be on high alert and expect communication from the GMP.
And while we're yet to see any GMP data surface online or further disseminated, the cops aren't resting easy. They've alerted the Information Commissioners Office and are busy tightening up security.
Assistant Chief Constable Colin McFarlane weighed in, saying, "We understand how concerning this is for our employees so, as we work to understand any impact on GMP, we are doing everything we can to ensure employees are kept informed, their questions are answered, and they feel supported."
The National Crime Agency has a job on their hands and the cyber cops are busy conducting a 'nationally-led criminal investigation' into the digital robbery.
The breach comes just as GMP raised its strength to more than 8,000 strong, marking the first time in a decade it reached that figure, and just after swearing in 93 new PCs. It's a hard-knock education for them on the perils of policing in the digital era.
Stay tuned as we continue to crack this case and bring you the latest from the ground and the cloud.
(By Michael O'Sullivan)