Cybercrime is Britain's Top Offense

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Cybercrime has formally emerged as the single largest type of offense in the UK following the reclassification of crimes by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Office for National Statistics has incorporated fraud and cybercrimes into its crime figures for the first time, in a move that has seen it officially become the UK’s most common offense. The reclassification has formally increased the number of crimes set out in the Crime Survey of England and Wales by around 40%, from 6.8 million to around 11.6 million, according to APMG International.

The greater numbers should drive greater awareness of cybercrime, assist law enforcement agents and encourage businesses to up their defenses, according to Richard Pharro, CEO of APMG.

“Official statistics have, to date, failed to include this modern crime,” he said. “When we consider the fact that the global cost of cybercrime was found to have surpassed that of the drug industry back in 2011, this change is long overdue. Not counting these offenses alongside more traditional ones has artificially depressed the statistics and denied the very real impact that cybercrime has on citizens and businesses.”

This isn’t simply an academic question of definitions or a question of what does—or doesn’t—make it on to the ONS’s ledger. With an incomplete picture of the criminal landscape, it has been difficult for many organizations to understand the very real threat of cybercrime and develop a strategy to reduce the likelihood of them becoming a victim.

“Reclassification demonstrates a recognition within government of the scale and impact of these crimes and is critical to establishing a common understanding among businesses of what the threats are and how they can be protected against,” Pharro continued. “Being aware of the potential threats is the first step towards managing and mitigating cybersecurity risks, which is one of the reasons why assessment and certification schemes are so important.”

The reclassification will work in tandem with the government’s Cyber Essentials scheme, to provide a solid foundation of basic measures for enterprises of all sizes. The scheme provides a clear and accessible framework to ensuring that an organization takes cybersecurity seriously and is able to defend against the majority of threats.

“With government initiatives, industry support and unique assessment tools there really are no excuses [for poor awareness],” Pharro concluded.

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