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True cost of online crime revealed

October 21st 2014

• 51% of Britons have experienced an online crime
• Half of victims of online crime ‘very or extremely violated’ by their experience
• 54% of Britons now want to unmask the cyber crooks behind online crimes
• ‘Don’t be a victim’ is theme for Get Safe Online Week 2014

Check out our infographic depicting the extent of online crime and revealing some real-life fraudsters by clicking here.

We can today reveal both the financial and the emotional cost of cybercrime. In a poll specially commissioned by us, half of those who said they were a victim of cybercrime said they felt either ‘very’ or ‘extremely violated’ by their ordeal. 

Separate figures, prepared by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) for Get Safe Online Week, give an indication of the sheer scale of online crime, with over £670 million lost nationwide to the top ten internet-enabled frauds reported between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2014. (The £670 million figure comes from reports of fraud, calculated when the first contact to victims was via an online function).

But as a significant number of internet-enabled fraud cases still go unreported, the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.

As we reported yesterday, our survey also revealed that 53% of the population now sees online crimes as seriously as ‘physical world’ crimes, destroying the notion that online crime is ‘faceless’ and less important than other crimes. As a result, more cybercrime victims (54%) wish to unmask a perpetrator ... but only 14% succeeded.

Over half of those surveyed for Get Safe Online have been a victim of online crime, but only a third of these reported the crime. 47% of victims did not know who to report an online crime to, although this figure is expected to decrease because of the ongoing work of Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, and the considerable Government resources now dedicated to fighting cybercrime.

On a positive note, the victims in our poll said that their experiences have shocked them into changing their behaviour for the better, with 45% opting for stronger passwords and 42% being extra vigilant when shopping online. 37% always log out of accounts when they go offline and 18% have changed their security settings on their social media accounts.

Many still not protecting themselves

In stark contrast, however, most people still don’t have the most basic protection. More than half of mobile phone users and around a third of laptop owners do not have a password or PIN number for their device. That figure rises to 59% for PC users and 67% of tablet owners. 

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, commented: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80 billion a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year. As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make the UK one of the most secure places to do business in cyberspace. We have a £860m Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement’s response to cybercrime and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets."
           
The minister continued: “Our ‘Get Safe Online’ and ‘Cyber Streetwise’ campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves.  yber security is not an issue for Government alone – we must all take action to defend ourselves against threats.”

Get Safe Online Chief Executive Tony Neate commented: “Our research shows just how serious a toll cybercrime can take – both on the wallet and on well-being, and this has been no more apparent than in the last few weeks with various large-scale personal photo hacks of celebrities and the general public. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common now that we live more of our lives online."

He continued: “Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’ and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished. The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, Head of the City of London Police’s NFIB, said: “Cheap and easy access to the internet is changing the world and transforming our lives. What many of us may be less aware of is that financial crime has moved online and poses a major threat to people of all ages and from all walks of life living in the UK today. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor – it matters little who you are, where you live or what you do.

Mr O'Doherty continued: “It is vitally important people are fully aware of the dangers of fraud and internet-enabled fraud which is why the City of London Police, in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud and home to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, is fully supportive of Get Safe Online’s week of action. I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report to Action Fraud. Only by doing this will local police forces be able to track down the main offenders and ensure victims receive the best possible support as they try to recover from what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting experience.”

What to do if you have been a victim of online crime

• If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (i.e. where you have lost money) you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
• If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.

For general advice on how to stay safe online, please have a look around this website. For our new infographic depicting the true cost of online crime and some of those responsible, click here.