UK Records Six Million Cyber Offenses In One Year

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Nearly six million cybercrimes were committed in England and Wales during the last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

In total 5.8 million “fraud and computer misuse incidents” were committed. Of this total, 3.8 million were fraud incidents, including 2.8 million “bank and credit account fraud” crimes, and 1 million cases of “non-investment fraud,” which is anything related to online shopping or fake computer support calls.

The 2 million "computer misuse incidents” included 1.4 million cases related to viruses while the remaining 600,000 were cases of “unauthorized access to personal information,” which included incidents of hacking.

These 5.8 million cybercrime cases sit on top of the ONS figure of 6.3 million crimes being committed against adults in England and Wales in the year up to the end of March 2016. However, this does not mean the crime rate has doubled, ONS statistician John Flatley said.

“This is the first time we have published official estimates of fraud and computer misuse from our victimisation survey. Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other Crime Survey offences. However, it would be wrong to conclude that actual crime levels have doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences,” he wrote.

Additionally, the figure of 5.8 million cases of cybercrime could be well below the true number, the report said, as many victims may not even be aware of any incidents or be unwilling to report the crime to police.

Increased reporting of cybercrime is a good step for the UK to take, according to Paul Taylor, UK head of cybersecurity at KPMG.

“The cybercrime and fraud statistics in the latest ONS crime survey are deeply concerning, but not surprising. Greater transparency around the scale of this problem is vital, helping set the national priorities for law enforcement resources, and underlining the need for industry and government to work together to combat this growing menace.”

The figures also represent a wake-up call for businesses. “Through the inclusion of online crime in ONS crime reports, this further supports the requirement for all organizations to realize the severity and seriousness of cybercrime and the need for all to take up arms to fight it. Organizations need to put security at the top of the boardroom agenda to implement the right technology to protect themselves and their employees,” said Robert Norris, Director of Enterprise & Cyber Security in UK & Ireland at Fujitsu.

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