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UK households hit by 1.8m computer misuse offences in a year

Stats show few report such crimes to cops

The number of incidents of computer misuse in England and Wales reached 1.8 million in the year up to March 2015, according to official crime statistics released today.

The Office for National Statistics data, based on a household survey of around 17,000 people, reveal 1.19 million cases of computer viruses.

There were a further 603,000 incidents where someone gained unauthorised access to personal information, which includes hacking.

The data suggests people don't tend to bother reporting computer viruses to the police, with just 3.7 per cent of people informing law enforcement.

However, more people thought cops should know when someone had access their personal info – 11.8 per cent said they reported such incidents.

Some 18 per cent of people surveyed said they fell victim to computer misuse crimes more than once during the year.

Of the overall total, 6 per cent said they had suffered three or more incidents (El Reg wonders whether they were simply unlucky or might need to do something about their security measures).

These computer misuse stats are experimental – they only got added into the official crime survey back in October 2015, which means that until there are two years of data there isn't a previous set to compare them against.

The ONS also added in questions on fraud at the same time, and the data shows that, in the 12 months up to March 2017, there were 3.4 million incidents.

Not all of these resulted in financial loss – 31.9 per cent didn't – and just 0.5 per cent resulted in a loss of £20,000 or more. Nearly half (45.4 per cent) resulted in a loss of between £50 and £1,000.

Of these cases, 57 per cent were classed as cyber crime – defined by the ONS as being those that involved the internet or any kind of online activity. Somewhat unsurprisingly, 97 per cent of computer misuse cases fell into this category.

The survey also looked at offences recorded as online crime by the police in England and Wales, finding that there were almost 50,000 such cases.

Of these, harassment and stalking was the most prevalent, with 29,570 recorded cases.

But obscene publications were more likely to involve the internet – 43 per cent of all obscene publications were classed as online crime, while just 14 per cent of harassment and stalking took place online.

The other incidents most often reported as online crime were child sexual offences (5,710 cases) and blackmail (2,114).

Overall, the crime survey showed 11 million incidents of crime in the year up to March 2017, including these experimental figures. Without them, there were 5.9 million incidents, which was a 7 per cent drop on last year's survey.

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