Let’s face it, we live in an online world now. Avoiding crime is no longer a matter of positioning yourself away from risky locations, holding more tightly onto your wallet or locking your doors. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can fall victim to cybercrime.

With fraud and cyber offences now included in the Crime Survey of England and Wales last year, we can now get some hard data on how real that danger really is.


Crime moving from the street to the web

According to the latest figures, there were two million computer misuse offences in a single year, with 1 in 10 people falling victim to online fraud and cybercrime. This means you are now 20 times more likely to be robbed online by someone overseas than robbed by someone on the street.
Since the findings in this category were collected for the first time and are currently only published as “experimental” statistics, it’s too early to see any trends developing, but at least we can see the prevalence of crime online.

“When the crime survey started, fraud was not considered a significant threat and the internet had yet to be invented. Today’s figures demonstrate how crime has changed, with fraud now the most commonly experienced offence.”John Flatley, from the ONS.

What is being measured?

The survey now includes two categories of “computer misuse” crimes, these are:

  • Unauthorized access to personal information, including hacking
  • Computer virus, malware or other incidents such as “DDoS” attacks aimed at online services

Cybercrime covers a range of offences including bank and credit card fraud, online shopping scams, hacking and romantic deception where people are seduced into paying thousands of pounds by fake online lovers.

What do the numbers tell us about cybercrime in England and Wales?

Indications are that fraud and computer misuse accounted for 5.8 million crimes last year.
Of those, 2.5 million were bank and credit card fraud, 1 million consisted of online shopping scams and around 108,000 were romance type scams.
Around 1.4 million people suffered computer virus attacks, with almost 650,000 people reporting that their email or social media profile had been hacked.

What is currently being done?

Unfortunately, cybercrime continues to go unreported, which means the problem is probably much worse than we think.
Many people don’t even realize they’ve been robbed, until they check their accounts and do their own investigations.
Thankfully, many banks are cooperative when it comes to reimbursing customers whose accounts have been compromised. But this also means many people probably wouldn’t feel the need to report offences to police.
Even when they are reported, it’s near impossible to identify a cyber criminal and many of them are based overseas which makes it difficult for the police to investigate offences and bring criminals to justice.
However, the government has plans to invest £1.9bn in cybersecurity over five years and police forces are working with the Home Office, police and crime commissioners, and industry experts to develop new tactics to fight cybercrime.

“The ability to commit crime online demonstrates the need for policing to adapt and transform to tackle these cyber challenges,”Chief Constable Jeff Farrar.

Getting street smart online

For enterprises, protecting employees from cybercrime is thankfully not as hard as it may seem, even on their mobile devices, which are at a particularly high risk given their personal nature.
Enterprises should deploy a solution that enables admins to control what is accessed on the device and blocks threats detected in real-time, including malware, leaking apps and other anomalous behaviour in the data.
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