Lego police station

Police buy rare Lego pieces to educate firms about cybercrime

The UK's largest police force owns around a dozen Lego sets, E&T understands. The sets are used as part of a 'Decisions and Disruptors' exercise for business executives and officers are not allowed to play with them in their spare time.

London’s Metropolitan Police has unveiled its latest tool in the fight against cybercrime: a Lego board game.

At a Scotland Yard briefing attended by E&T, officers from the Met’s Falcon fraud squad today demonstrated how the “deliberately low-tech” game can be used to teach business executives about the dangers posed by malware, email scams and ideologically driven “script kiddies”.

The tabletop exercise, called “Decisions and Disruptors”, was designed by Lancaster University academics.

Teams of players are tasked with defending the IT infrastructure of a fictional hydroelectric company from attack. They must decide how to spend a finite IT security budget, and an expert guides them through each stage, explaining the good or bad consequences of each choice. The winning team is the one that has lost the least amount of money through poor cybersecurity by the end of the game. Attackers include a fictional band of eco-warriors outraged by the impact of hydroelectricity on the environment.

Lego figurines are used to represent the company’s personnel, while lines of different coloured bricks represent routes through which data, and attack vectors, can travel. Firewalls, antivirus software and other defences are also represented by way of Lego pieces.

Tata Steel and property developer Quintain Ltd are among the companies that have so far benefited from the exercise, which is provided to companies free of charge by Falcon. 

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick has also played the game, which was designed to highlight the importance of “defence in depth” and the need to balance physical security and cybersecurity – as well as the consequences of getting that balance wrong. Officers are not allowed to play with the Lego in their spare time.

E&T understands the police force has so far spent nearly £1,000 on Lego. Because some of the Lego pieces used are considered by collectors to be rarities, they needed to be sourced from a specialist online retailer at added cost. The Met currently owns around a dozen Lego sets and is likely to acquire more in future.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Organised Crime Command, told journalists around 38,000 variants of malware had so far been identified. He said cybercrime had this year been made a Home Office priority as the volume of cyber-enabled incidents had never been greater.

Last week, the Home Office warned that millions of people were vastly underestimating the threat of being hit by computer hackers, and failing to take even basic steps to protect themselves.

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