Cyber crime gangs from 25 countries targeting UK

The chairman of the commons Home Affairs select committee posed one simple question to Commissioner Adrian Leppard. With regards to cyber crime, Keith Vaz asked the head of the City of London police, "Are we winning this battle?"

[caption id="attachment_20588" align="aligncenter" width="646"]cyber crime space cop cyber crime on the up but police numbers to be cut[/caption]

Mr Leppard's response was equally succinct, conceding "We are not winning."  No shit, Sherlock?

Not only are the Met losing the battle against cyber crime, but online fraud and identity theft are also recognised as global phenomena "rising exponentially," according to the Commissioner.

Keen to impress exactly how far we are behind in the battle against online fraud, Vaz also suggested that gangs of cyber criminals are "running rings around" the best officers the Met has to offer.

300 global internet fraud gangs identified

Whilst Nigeria was once the main focus of activity for training teams of online fraudsters, it seems that the hub of cyber crime has shifted. It's now believed that Russia and Eastern Europe are where the main threats are now based.

What's perhaps even more disconcerting than the news of online crime escalation is both where the funds are headed and who the victims are. More than half being conned are over 65, with al-Qaeda being the main beneficiaries.  In real terms, the terrorism threat is still there and we're unwittingly funding it.

Cyber crime estimated at £35bn per annum in the UK

The average victim of cyber crime said to be fleeced for around £25,000, so it's really no wonder that over 8% of the world's cyber criminals are targeting the UK. The overall cost of fraud to the UK is £70bn per annum. Around 50% of that total figure is extracted from trusting victims online.

It's not only doddering individuals being conned out of their pension pots. Okay, 10% of the net cyber crime figure is attributed to senior citizens being swindled into investing in dodgy share scams. However, retailers have also reported a rise in online fraud of almost a third in 2012.

Things are only going to get worse, too. Commissioner Leppard underlined the problem by pointing out that 200 of the 800 trained cyber crime officers are due to be lost due to cuts in spending.  Where is the sense in that equation?  But what can the Government say about identity theft when they're the biggest culprits?

With the UK's crime-fighting capability collapsing and online criminal activity rising, it feels a bit like being on board the USS Enterprise.  Only with the deflector shield being powered by a couple of dodgy AA batteries and Captain Berk Kirk calling for more power when Scotty needs what little power left for the defence of our ship.

And just for the record in the Captain's Log, neither the cyber criminals nor the Duracells look like being charged any time soon...

Have Your Say:

  • Is there enough information about cyber crime available?

  • If you saw these figures, would you be cutting cyber cops by a quarter or increasing the department's training and capability?

photo credit: ssoosay via photopin cc