In the UK last year there were a staggering 3,237,500 cybercrimes committed according to a new report from online identity specialists Garlik in collaboration with leading criminologists. Do the math and that works out to one cybercrime committed every ten seconds in the UK alone.
Of these, some 60 percent were what are termed offences against the person such as threatening emails, libellous website comments and Internet perpetrated blackmail attempts. There were more than 200,000 cases of online financial fraud, double the number of real-world robberies that took place in the UK during the same period. ID theft online hit the 90,000 incidents mark, while unauthorised access to someone's PC with an underhand or unknown motive peaked at 144,500 and online sexual offences a worrying 850,000.
Stefan Fafinski, CEO of criminology firm 1871 Ltd who are the authors of the report, said: "Although measuring cybercrime is difficult, it is clear that in many instances it is outstripping 'traditional' crime. This is a result of the unparalleled opportunities that the Internet gives both for making familiar crimes easier and for enabling 'pure' cybercrimes that could not exist without the Internet."
Categories and number of cybercrimes committed in the UK in 2006
- Online identity theft 92,000
- Online financial fraud 207,000
- Online offences against the person 1,944,000
- Computer misuse offences 144,500
- Online sexual offences 850,000
Perhaps of most concern though is the assertion that as much as 90 percent of all cybercrime goes unreported, victims deterred from reporting the crime due to an assumption that the activity itself is not actually criminal because it took place online, or that law enforcement would be unable or unwilling to get involved. The Garlik report suggests that the relative anonymity of the Internet is driving the crime wave, not helped by the fact that many people hold a misguided belief that ethical codes relating to personal property and privacy that we hold dear in the real world just do not apply in a virtual environment.
Greg Day, a security analyst from McAfee told DaniWeb "there is often a great level of difficulty in tracing online crimes back to specific criminals. Cyber-criminals can employ a number of tactics to avoid detection such as using communal computers in cyber cafe's or planting infectious software on other users computers and allowing them to send it on through viral e-mails. Cyber crime's span international boundaries, so offer the criminal a much broader spectrum of potential victims. Policing of cyber attacks becomes even more difficult when the crimes cross international boarders. Currently there are no international laws in place for the preventing or regulating cyber-crime. Cyber crime is no longer only for the brave-hearted or the professional criminal. Cyber crime can be carried out by anyone with an internet connection. It is perhaps this ease that often allows curiosity and inquisitiveness to develop into criminal activity."