ONS: Nearly Two Million Annual Cybercrime Incidents

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There were nearly two million cybercrime incidents in the UK in the year ending September 2016, and a similar number related to online fraud, according to the latest official Office of National Statistics report.

The ONS cautioned that its Crime Survey for England and Wales included only “Experimental Statistics” for fraud and cybercrime, with questions specific to these elements included in the report for the past 12 months.

This means the stats are still in the “testing phase” – however they represent a decent snapshot into the current level of these crimes in the UK.

Specifically, the ONS survey revealed 1.97 million cybercrime incidents, the vast majority of which were related to the category of "computer virus" (1.3m), with the remainder featuring "unauthorized access to personal info" (667,000).

As a result, there were almost 1.6 million victims of these crimes – aged 16 or over – in the report period.

As for fraud, there were 3.6 million incidents and 2.9 million victims in total, with the majority (53%) coming via online channels.

However, the extend of cyber fraud varied by offence, with 75% of “non-investment frauds” indicated by victims to have involved the use of the internet, versus less than half (45%) of bank and credit account fraud.

Sundeep Tengur, financial crimes specialist at analytics firm SAS, argued that fraud affects businesses of all sizes.

“In light of recent and ongoing regulatory focus around securing electronic payments, mitigating cyber threats and improving data governance, businesses are being urged by policy-makers to do more to protect their customers from the scourge of fraud,” he added.

“Regardless of how Brexit shapes the UK legal and regulatory framework going forward, the fight against fraud and financial crime is bound to grow at an unrelenting pace.”

An ONS report in October 2015 claimed to have recorded 2.5 million cybercrime incidents over the previous 12 months, although that figure was estimated on a “large scale field trial” between May and August, so is not suitable for comparison with the latest stats.

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