Is digital fraud big in UK? British abacus-botherers finally have some answers

Hacking, malware: the numbers

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Reports of fraud have doubled, according to official statistics – because the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is now including cyber crimes in its figures.

The UK's ONS reckons, in crime statistics released last week, that more than two million computer misuse offences and 3.8 million online fraud offences took place in the 12 months to the end of March.

Of the computer misuse offences, 68 per cent involved malware, while 32 per cent consisted of hacking or unauthorised access. The figures are much higher than an initial ONS estimate in October last year.

The combined total of 5.8 million incidents of cybercrime in England and Wales is enough to nearly double the overall crime rate. According to the ONS, cybercrime now makes up 40 per cent of all recorded criminal incidents.

An estimated 51 per cent of fraud incidents from October 2015 to March 2016 were cyber-related. Cybercrime will appear in all future editions of the ONS’s stats.

Paul Taylor, UK head of cyber security at KPMG, said: “More than half of the 3.8 million incidents of fraud against the individual are cyber related, with a further 2 million incidents of computer misuse, hacking and viruses. It’s clear that crime is becoming cyber enabled as our world becomes digital.

“Greater transparency around the scale of this problem is vital, helping set the national priorities for law enforcement resources, and underlining the need for industry and government to work together to combat this growing menace,” he added.

Aaron P Simpson, a partner at law firm Hunton & Williams, said: “Although this is the first year that cybercrime and online misuse statistics have been recorded by the ONS, it is particularly troubling to see that the total number of cases are similar to that of all other types of crime combined. This mirrors what we’re seeing in the corporate world, where the systems of businesses large and small are being targeted by hackers, hacktivists and nation states in search of information about consumers, employees and trade secrets.”

Figures from the ONS suggest that cyber offences now form the most common single class of crime and that one in 10 Brits will be the victim of a cyber-offence during a given year.

Gerry Carr, commercial director at Ravelin, a UK fraud-detection company said: "3.8 million card fraud offences reflects the reality we are seeing with our customer base of online businesses. But the cost of this crime is being borne not so much by individuals, although there is huge inconvenience, but by online businesses up and down the country in the form of chargebacks. The only option for these merchants is to take all the precautions they can to ensure transactions are legitimate, while still making for a pleasant online shopping experience for its customers.”

Robert Norris, director of enterprise & cyber security in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu, warned: “The technical capabilities of cyber-criminals continue to outpace the UK’s ability to deal with cyber threats. If we are to counter this, we must collaborate, to share intelligence and counter the threats. If we don’t, we will never succeed in getting ahead and the ONS figure will continue to rise.” ®


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