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The UK saw a significant rise in cybercrime last year

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / Song_about_summer)

The pandemic has been seized upon by cybercriminals everywhere, allowing them to leverage the exploding levels of fear and uncertainty to spread malware, steal money and sell valuable data on the black market.

A new report from cybersecurity firm ESET analyzed the state of cybercrime in the UK for 2020, and uncovered an increase of 19.1 percent compared to the year before.

The company said London was the “worst place in the UK for cybercrime”, with 66 in every 100,000 people falling victim last year. That’s a total of 5,934 cybercrime attacks in 2020 alone. The capital is followed by Hertfordshire, which suffered 63 attacks per 100,000 people (749 attacks in total).

Third place was split between Wiltshire and Kent, both coming in at 58.8 attacks per 100,000 people.

Cybercrime saw the greatest surge in Scotland, with growth of 200 percent compared to the year before. Cheshire was second with a 67.7 percent jump, followed by Surrey with 64.7 percent.

The majority of the attacks (roughly three-quarters) were classified as “hacking”, while the remaining quarter involved computer viruses, malware and spyware.

“What is initially apparent is that there has been a nationwide increase and cybercriminals will pursue the data rather than target people specifically,” said Jake Moore, Cybersecurity Specialist at ESET. 

“However, knowledge is the key to reducing cybercrime and where this data has highlighted inevitable increases, it may suggest those areas are lacking in cybersecurity awareness and a focus on education is now necessary.”