Cyber criminals from across the world are stealing billions from British businesses and individuals, essentially with impunity from being caught, it can be revealed.
Fewer than one in 100 cyber crimes in the UK are being reported to the police, while of those crimes that are reported, analysis by the Johnston Press Investigations Unit today reveals that a small percentage end with someone being charged.
Figures published by the National Crime Agency (NCA) reveal that just 0.7 per cent of estimated cyber crimes affecting individuals and businesses in this country were reported to the police last year.
The NCA’s report reveals that the primary threat to the UK “continues to stem from Russian-speaking countries” but adds the threat is becoming “increasingly global”.
Lynne Owens, director general of the NCA, has revealed even criminals with low technological skills are being empowered to commit “large-scale, high impact offences” by paying to hire specialist hacking software.
The NCA report said: “Under-reporting of cyber crime remains a key barrier to our understanding of its true scale and cost.
“The number of reports from individuals is higher than those received from businesses, but it is still lower than anticipated.
“Fears of reputational damage, not knowing to whom they should report, and being unaware that they have fallen victim to an attack often prevent businesses from making a report at the time of the incident.”
Among those being increasingly targeted are people using adult dating and pornography sites, while businesses are falling prey to sophisticated frauds where criminals impersonate high-ranking members of organisations and trick colleagues into redirecting money transfers.
It is revealed today that at least two companies have recently lost more than £1m each to this type of scam.
The NCA said that 15,246 reports of cyber crime were made to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, between November 2015 and October 2016.
But the NCA said those figures “fall far below” the Office for National Statistics’ estimate that around there were around two million victims of cyber crime in England and Wales alone in the past year.
The NCA said: “This disparity highlights the scale of under-reporting by both individuals and businesses.” It said the dark web has given criminals more anonymity.