Cyber crime included in official statistics

Cyber Security Force welcomes the inclusion of cyber crime in the latest crime survey for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Cyber Security Force welcomes the inclusion of cyber crime in the latest crime survey for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to the latest report, there were 5.8 million incidents of cyber crime and fraud in the 12 months up to March 2016, affecting one in 10 people in England and Wales.

Just over half of the fraud incidents were cyber related, with 28% of these being non-investment fraud relating to online shopping or computer service calls. Some 68% of computer misuse crimes were related to malware and 32% were from unauthorised access to personal information including hacking.

However, the ONS cyber crime and fraud figures are an estimate, as specific questions relating to cyber crime were only added to the survey in October 2015 following a field trial.

“Headline estimates will include these offences for the first time in January 2017 once the questions have been asked for a full 12 months,” the report said.

According to the report, there were 4.5 million crimes reported in the period, excluding the 3.8 million cyber-related fraud incidents and 2 million compute misuse offences.

But the ONS said it would be incorrect to assume that once the figures are combined in the next report that the overall crime figure will double.

“This is the first time we have published official estimates of fraud and computer misuse from our victimisation survey, and ONS is leading the world in doing this. Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other crime survey offences,” the ONS said.

“However, it would be wrong to conclude that actual crime levels have doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences. These improvements to the crime survey will help to measure the scale of the threat from these crimes, and help shape the response.”
Security should be top of board’s agenda

According to the ONS, cyber crime now makes up 40% of all recorded criminal incidents.

The technical capabilities of cyber criminals continue to outpace the UK’s ability to deal with cyber threats.

For the majority of organisations, the main two lessons to take from these statistics are the rapid evolution of cyber crime, and the number of threats that any individual or organisation will face.

As a result investment tends to flow into areas where it will be most productive, and crime is no different.

While there are government initiatives underway to tackle fraud, it is largely down to organisations to take care of themselves and the people they service.  The basics still apply:

  • Using strong passwords,
  • applying caution when using public Wi-Fi networks,
  • not revealing too much information about ourselves online and
  • regularly backing up personal data.

Experian’s Annual Fraud Indicator 2016 said fraud could be costing the UK economy up to £193 billion a year, with phishing attacks up by 21% in 2015 and were estimated to cost the UK more than £280 million.