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Cybercrime More Common than Offline Theft

Cybercrime against UK households is more common today than robbery of theft offenses, according to the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures.

The Crime in England and Wales survey (CSEW) is based on survey questions posed mainly to households by the ONS.

It calculated that computer misuse affected 1.8% of the UK population in the year ending September 2018, about the same as violent crime, but more than robbery (0.3%), “theft from the person” (0.8%), and “other theft of personal property” (1.3%).

The survey estimated around a million computer misuse offenses against UK households during this time period, although this figure has dropped by a third (33%), thanks to a major 45% fall in computer virus-related incidents.

Action Fraud data was also broken down in the report, as although it covers a smaller volume of offenses (24,000), it does include figures on cybercrime reported by businesses, which the CSEW does not.

It also reported a drop in reported computer viruses of 25%, but overall computer misuse crime jumped 12% over the period.

This figure is thought to have been driven by an increase in “hacking – social media and email” crimes over the 12 months.

“This is thought to reflect an increasing awareness of falling victim to hacking among the public, leading to a greater likelihood of incidents being reported,” the ONS claimed.

Fraud figures didn’t change significantly from the previous year, with online scams now accounting for 56% of the total, or 1.9m incidents, according to the report.

Fraser Kyne, EMEA CTO at Bromium, said the findings chimed with trends observed by his company over the past two years.

“Last year there was a 145% rise in malware, but this year that dropped by 25% as hackers switched tactics to hijack email and social media accounts,” he explained.

“The risk here for organizations is that hackers are still exploiting the weakest link in security, people. It is also worth noting that Action Fraud’s stats only reflect reported crime. These detected events prove that hackers are still bypassing defenses; but we must also assume that malware is breaking through and remaining undetected.”

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