There were more cybercrimes or cyber-enabled crimes last year in Britain than offline offenses, according to statistics in a new report from the UK’s equivalent of the FBI.
The National Crime Agency says in its Cyber Crime Assessment 2016 that 2015 was the first year that data on cybercrimes was collected as part of the annual crime survey for England and Wales. The survey, which is carried out every year by the UK’s Office of National Statistics, does not rely on crime reports to police, but instead questions Britons directly about their experience as victims over the past 12 months.
“The ONS estimated that there were 2.46 million cyber incidents and 2.11 million victims of cybercrime in the UK in 2015,” states the assessment. That amounts to 53 percent of all the crimes in the country, unevenly divided between “cyber-enabled fraud” at 36 percent and “computer misuse” at 17 percent.
The figures suggest that there is massive under-reporting of such crimes, since only 16,349 cybercrimes and roughly 700,000 cyber-enabled crimes were reported to authorities in the same period. NCA states that although the most serious crimes are the work of highly organized international groups, “the majority of cyber criminals have relatively low technical capability.”
These low-level crooks rely on “the growing online criminal marketplace, which provides easy access to sophisticated and bespoke tools and expertise, allowing these less skilled cyber criminals to exploit a wide range of vulnerabilities.”
The authorities cannot keep up, the assessment says, and are unlikely to be able to any time soon.
“The accelerating pace of technology and criminal cyber capability development currently outpaces the UK’s collective response to cyber crime. This ‘cyber arms race’ is likely to be an enduring challenge,” the authors state.
The assessment was published July 7 and the figures were first reported by security blogger Brian Krebs.