Over half of all Britons using the internet have been victims of a cyber crime such a hacking, ID theft or fraud, but a significant proportion of those affected don’t know who they should contact in order to report it, figures released by The Cabinet Office suggest.
The statistics come from a specially commissioned poll by research firm Vision Critical for Get Safe Online Week 2014, which runs from 20 to 26 October. According to the research, 51 per cent of people have been victims of online cyber crime, with many suffering an economic loss as a result.
The cyber crimes include ID theft, details being stolen via computer hacking, or distribution of computer viruses and malware.
While cyber crime is growing, the figures suggest that the public aren’t aware of what to do if they’re a victim of computer hackers or cyber thieves. Of those who’ve fallen victim to cyber crime, the Vision Critical poll suggests that only 32 per cent – under a third – actually reported the incident to the authorities.
Indeed, the figures reveal that just under half of the cyber crime victims (47 per cent) did not report the incident because they didn’t know who they’re supposed to contact.
However, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude MP argued that the government is doing all it can to ensure that law enforcement can deal with cyber crime, and to raise public awareness so people can avoid becoming victims.
“The UK cyber market is worth over £80bn 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,” he said.
“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 cyber crime and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets,” Maude 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. Cyber security is not an issue for government alone – we must all take action to defend ourselves against threats,” he added.
In addition to the Vision Critical poll results, separate figures released by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) suggest that in the UK alone, more than £670m was lost to just the top 10 types of cyber fraud between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.
However, that figure could be much higher in reality because so much cyber crime goes unreported.
“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,” said Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, head of the City of London Police’s NFIB.
“I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report to Action Fraud,” he continued.
“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.”