Online criminal gangs are switching their sights away from big business to concentrate on so-called “silent stealing”, in which they purloin small sums of money – sometimes as little as £10 a pop – on a mass scale to avoid detection.
So says a new report from the Royal United Services Institute, entitled The UK’s Response To Cyber Fraud: A Strategic Vision, which claims that cyber fraud in the UK is “rampant”.
The study reveals that the number of cyber fraud victims in the country is slowly increasing, with most small-scale thefts not being reported, or being overlooked by law enforcement and “costing millions of pounds and leaving victims in its wake”.
The report states: “There’s a working hypothesis that criminals are going down market. Yes, trying to steal £10m from a bank is an option, but stealing £10 a hundred thousand times is going to give you a good return and probably go below the radar. Are you going to call Action Fraud or your bank in the case where you lose £10?”
And the report authors are in no doubt that the huge volumes of breached data available on the web makes it easy for scammers to buy personal information and use it for online fraud. The shift to home working during the Covid-19 pandemic has also thrown new light on the UK’s cyber crime vulnerability, say the researchers.
The researchers surveyed 180 people, including workers from financial services, law enforcement, cyber security, academia, and intelligence analysts. Nearly 70% said that despite an increase in remote working in past year, businesses have largely failed to make increased efforts to improve their cyber security.
Most people are still reliant on less secure household devices, while many employees working from home are not alert about online safety practices.
The report also calls for a more organised and coordinated response to cyber fraud, with stronger Government leadership. It makes 11 recommendations, including upscaling a more prominent role for pre-emptive technical takedowns, and private sector partnerships.
It also suggests publishing comprehensive guidance for private entities on how they can assist law enforcement agencies in preventing cyber fraud through information sharing.
Sir John Hayes MP said: “Cybercrime is not only a threat to national prosperity and economic security, but, on a deeper level, it undermines our trust in technology. The consistent application of well-defined policy, supported by enhanced skills, is essential to enable law enforcement to stay ahead of criminals who seek to undermine the prosperity of the UK, ruining lives and livelihoods.”
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