Cybercrime figures focus on fraud misses some of the most devastating crimes
Cybercrime figures are just the tip of the iceberg because they focus on fraud, other offences such as extortion, stalking, revenge porn and harassment often get overlooked.
“We must be careful that focussing on cyber fraud doesn’t skew the overall approach to victims. If someone loses £1,000 that is upsetting, but someone who is a victim of stalking the impact is greater and can be life threatening” said Jennifer Perry, CEO of the Digital-Trust.
The criminal justice system is struggling to know what to do with cybercrime. The police cyber focus has been in on child exploitation, large corporates that have been targeted, and now terrorism. When it comes to cybercrimes against individuals they often dismiss them. This is due lack of investment in local forces, lack of confidence and often blaming the victim.
The Guardian reported a study commissioned by the City of London Police and the City of London Corporation suggested “For some individuals … it is arguable that they should not receive scarce policing resources because they have not exercised due diligence on their own behalf”
This statement shows a lack of understanding of the range of cybercrimes. Having anti-virus software doesn’t stop someone from grooming a child or an adult, it doesn’t stop a person from ruining your reputation.
Addressing cybercrime requires users, police and industry to work together. We have to address the amount of data that is being leaked via social media and mobile phones, both of which increase risks for all users.
Victims do, however, have a responsibility to help themselves. It isn’t the job of the police to secure your mobile, online accounts or computers. It is up to the individual. There are a number of measures that will help a victim or prevent a person becoming a victim.
Most of the advice out there is out of date, focused on fraud, and is a tick box instructions. One line that says get anti-virus, another that says update the operating software etc. The Digital-Trust was set up to give victims the step by step advice they need to help themselves – and most importantly it’s written for non-technical people.
“Our advice can reduce harm or even stop abuse completely. We also help victims to gather evidence and explain how to better present their case to the police” explains Perry.
Industry has a responsibility and they can no longer dismiss their role. “We need funding and we need industry to work with us. A leading mobile manufacturer told me they wouldn’t review my advice for victims because “it didn’t support their product positioning” - in other words they were more worried about admitting users could increase the security of their phones by taking our advice, than helping victims. That attitude has to change or we will never get our devices secure and cybercrime will continue to escalate” says Perry.
Example of how cyber victims are dismissed
Computer Weekly reported that Metropolitian Police Detective Chief Inspector Gary Miles used this case study at a conference in June:
Miles described one instance where a woman had been pushed to the floor and robbed of £20 at a cashpoint. The Metropolitan Police Service immediately put four officers on the case, seized CCTV footage, caught the thief by the end of the day and put him in court the following morning (where he got a three-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty).
But a woman who complained she had been defrauded of £11,000 was dismissed by police because they believed she was not vulnerable and fraud was not a priority.