ONS cyber crime stats: Industry reaction and analysis

Following today's report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that almost six million cases of fraud and cyber crime were committed last year in England and Wales, various industry professionals have offered their thoughts.

David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab:

“As with markets generally, investment tends to flow into areas where it will be most productive, and crime is no different. With so much financial activity moving online, criminals have capitalised on this by moving their activity into the cyber world.

“The lines are sometimes blurred – some scams include both online and real-world activity, such as scam telephone calls to trick the caller into giving criminals remote access to their computer. Therefore, we all need to be aware of the cyber-security threats being carried out around us, with more attempts than ever to steal money, personal information or to extort money by holding our data captive. It is vital that people use a reliable Internet security solution on all connected devices, apply security updates as soon as they become available, download software only from trusted sources (such as official app stores and vendors) and be cautious about e-mail and other messages that include attachments and links – even if they appear to come from friends.

"Using strong passwords, applying caution when using public Wi-Fi networks, not revealing too much information about ourselves online and regularly backing up personal data should be as intrinsic as locking the doors of your house and keeping valuables out of sight.”

Stephen Love, Security Practice Lead – EMEA at Insight:

“The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics crime report have revealed that in the past year one-tenth of people in England and Wales have been a victim of cyber crime. Unfortunately, this does not come as a surprise. It does, however, highlight the need for greater awareness around how to defend against cyber crime. For businesses, it is imperative that they put an emphasis on cyber-security due to the inevitability of malicious hacks. To address this issue, we need to increase understanding and collaboration between organisations to make it easier for them to protect their business from the threat of online attacks.

“It is important to highlight that internal activity and human error, such as opening SPAM emails or using non-secure devices, is often the reason behind cyber-attacks. Emphasising the value of data to employees is key, as sensitive details can be accessed and bought on the dark web long after a cyber-attack occurs.

“Ultimately, with cyber-attacks becoming more frequent, organisations must view them as a major crime and implement the necessary steps to defend against it.”

John Lord, managing director at GBG:

“It is clear that the fraud problem can no longer be ignored. Unfortunately, in this age whereby our personal data is so easily accessible through social media sites, for example, it’s no longer a question of ‘if’ that personal information gets compromised, it’s when. It’s important that we all realise we have a responsibility in stopping the fraudsters in their tracks.

"For the individual, it’s about knowing how valuable your personal information is and taking the right measures to protect it. For businesses and governments, data transparency can be used incredibly effectively as a way of battling fraud. When data is shared freely between the public and private sectors, across geographical and political boundaries and amongst international bodies, a more accurate picture of global fraud patterns can be established.

"Those with malicious intent are not static individuals - they move around - and unless free-flowing access to real-time information is possible across multiple countries, their criminal history cannot be effectively tracked and they're free to commit fraud again. Using accurate data to connect the dots, predict algorithms and identify behaviour patterns are all crucial to building out an intelligent view of fraud.”

Aaron P. Simpson, Partner, Hunton & Williams:

“Although this is the first year that cyber crime and online misuse statistics have been recorded by the ONS, it is particularly troubling to see that the total number of cases are similar to that of all other types of crime combined. This mirrors what we’re seeing in the corporate world, where the systems of businesses large and small are being targeted by hackers, hacktivists and nation states in search of information about consumers, employees and trade secrets. The motives of these threat actors are many and include financial gain and operational disruption. For businesses, the repercussions are huge, by way of brand damage but also as a result of the parade of horribles that can ensue from a legal perspective in the wake of a cyber-attack.

"Figures such as these highlight the worrying ubiquity of online crime. The time is now for businesses to ensure they have taken the steps necessary to be prepared to address and respond to a cyber-attack.”

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