Online crime worldwide is increasingly displacing conventional forms of property crime, such as burglary and robbery.
In London, for example, police report that organized crime syndicates have been increasingly embracing cybercrime – in particular, payment card fraud and identity scams – given the potential for a vastly greater return on their investment, as well as much lower risk, UK cybersecurity expert Alan Woodward says in an interview.
“It’s no longer the spotty youth in his bedroom, committing some opportunistic crime,” says Woodward, a visiting professor at the University of Surrey who is also a cyber security adviser to the association of European police agencies known as Europol. “Some of these are very highly orchestrated crimes. They require money and they require some quite sophisticated software to be written. And indeed, ‘crime as a service’ is actually growing as a genre online.”
Earlier this year, London’s mayor’s office and Metropolitan Police released an online theft and fraud report, noting that 70 percent of all fraud now involves the Internet.
But fraud-related losses may be dramatically underreported. Woodward says that in the UK alone, the City of London Police, which takes the lead on fraud investigations, estimates that £2.2 billion ($3.4 billion) is lost to card fraud every year. But police also suspect that 85 percent of fraud is not being reported by consumers, meaning that annually, actual losses might total £12.1 billion ($18.7 billion).
The good news, however, is that police forces in many countries – not just across Europe, but also in North America – have been conducting joint operations where they have been able to track back crimes, shut down criminal organizations and, in many cases, prosecute suspects.
However, statements by the UK government that overall crime in the UK is reducing take little account of the substantial increase in cyber crime, which often goes unreported and uninvestigated.
Source: Cyber Security Intelligence