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UK Cybercrime Falls but Attacks on Organizations Soar

Cybercrime against consumers appears to be falling in the UK, but is soaring when specific offenses against organizations are tallied, according to the latest official statistics.

The Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) latest bulletin on Crime in England and Wales shows a mixed picture for the year ending September 2017.

It had this:

“Offences involving computer misuse showed a 24% decrease from the survey year ending September 2016 (down to 1.5 million offences), largely owing to a fall in ‘computer viruses’ (down 26% to 1.0 million offences).”

In addition, cases of reported fraud dropped 10%, from 3.6 million to 3.2 million incidents, driven mainly by a drop in “consumer and retail fraud” – i.e. “online shopping or fraudulent computer service calls” which fell 20% from 0.9 million to 0.7 million offenses, ONS said.

Cyber-related incidents accounted for the majority (56%) of fraud cases: 1.8 million incidents.

However, when taken alone, computer misuse crimes reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) by Action Fraud increased 63%, driven by a rise in “computer viruses” of 145%.

The ONS added:

“More specifically, this is thought to be due to a rise in levels of malware (mainly ransomware and Trojans), including several high-profile attacks and security breaches on national institutions (for example, the WannaCry virus linked to the NHS cyber-attack in May 2017), which would not have been captured by the CSEW as the primary victims were organizations rather than individuals.”

RSA Security director of fraud and risk intelligence, Tim Ayling, claimed that despite the headline drop in cybercrime figures, online fraudsters are having a “feeding frenzy.”

“In the near future, as more automated services such as virtual assistants and driverless cars have access to this data and make our purchases for us, cyber-fraudsters will even start to target our non-human counterparts,” he added.

“Before this becomes a reality, it’s vital users get a handle on who has their information, and how they are protecting it now as we move into uncharted territory of ‘human-not-present’ fraud.”

Sundeep Tengur, banking fraud solutions manager at SAS UK & Ireland, pointed out that despite the drop in the volume of fraud, the value of scamming activity has hit a 15-year high of £2.1bn over recent years.

“Financial organizations have seemingly improved their game but let’s not forget that fraudsters are constantly gaining in sophistication, often at a faster pace. Even a single missed fraud attempt can result in a very costly hit,” he warned.

“The true challenge in the fight against fraud now lies in bolstering the ability to proactively detect and prevent fraud, ideally in real time. With new payment schemes such as SEPA instant credit transfer, and the disintermediation of the banking sector with PSD2, speed of execution is now more important than ever for an effective anti-fraud system.”

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