Eighty percent of online crime is not reported to the authorities, with digital police practices ‘severely hampered’ and requiring ‘a fundamental change in mindset’, according to City of London Police commissioner Adrian Leppard.
In a new report, the police group, which leads the way in tackling fraud and internet-based crime in Britain, says that official data “vastly underestimates” the problem by only taking into account cases that are brought to the authorities.
The issue is made more difficult to tackle by the international nature of online crime, which places it beyond the reach of UK law enforcement.
While Europol and Interpol can help to coordinate an international response, this can only go so far.
· 3.7 million crimes of this nature were recorded by the UK government between 2013 and 2014.
· However, an estimated 1.2 million crimes went unreported by businesses, financial institutions and individuals between 2013-14, costing victims over £12 billion. This brings the total number of cyberattacks up to 5 million for the period.
· 7 in 10 cases of fraud are carried out online, says the London Assembly’s police and crime committee – and criminals only need “limited technical knowledge” to carry out scams.
Even more worryingly, some large businesses actively decide against reporting cases of fraud and successful hacks, believing that this could have commercial implications or could harm their reputation.
“In these cases, businesses are effectively absorbing the cost of the crime as a running expense,” say the report’s authors. “Ultimately, it is likely that these costs are passed on to customers.”