We’re almost at the end of the annual Cyber Security Awareness month which has celebrated its 20-year anniversary this year. The campaign promotes the safer use of the Internet for citizens, and also seeks to provide the knowledge and tools to do so.
Stories of hacking, scams and security breaches are now all too common an occurrence and reported widely in the media.
Our PCC Mark Shelford is the national lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners on Economic and Cyber Crime.
What is Cyber Crime?
Cyber crime can be put into two distinct categories:
- Cyber-dependent – crimes committed using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) devices, where the devices are both the tool for committing the crime, and the target of the crime. For example, developing and propagating malware for financial gain or hacking with the intent of stealing from someone.
- Cyber-enabled – traditional crimes which can be increased in scale or reach using ICT. This is where fraud and cyber crime often overlap.
Cyber Crime in Avon and Somerset
Fraud and cyber crime pose a significant threat, representing over 50% of all crime in this country and costing the country billions of pounds a year. There are between 800-1000 reports of fraud and cyber crime every month in Avon and Somerset; however, the actual number is likely to be far higher. These types of crime are increasing in volume and complexity.
Between January and June this year, a mere six months, there was a staggering 3,651 reports to Action Fraud from Avon and Somerset alone. These reports paint a distressing picture, showcasing financial losses amounting to an astonishing £34.4 million, with businesses alone bearing a significant £6.3 million burden.
The Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Plan includes four key priorities. Priority 1 is preventing and fighting crime – and never has this been more important than in the area of cyber crime which represents a challenge for individuals, businesses and organisations.
Take action – what you can do?
We should all be employing strong and unique passwords for each online account we hold, implement two-factor authentication wherever possible and exercise caution about the information shared on social media platforms.
These seemingly straightforward measures can provide a significant shield against potential threats and offer protection when cyber criminals inevitably look to appropriate finances or sensitive information.
Businesses should look to train their teams to identify phishing attempts. Emphasising the use of robust passwords and instilling a sense of vigilance in digital interactions.
Systems and software should regularly be updated and ensure multi-factor authentication is in place. Organisations should also have robust protocols for responding to cyber incidents, ensuring employees are well-versed in the necessary steps.
Report all cyber crimes
It’s vital if you or someone you know has been affected by cyber crime that you report it, so that the true scale and cost is known. People often do not report these crimes as they feel humiliated or embarrassed for having been duped or fallen victim to cyber crime but any one of us can be affected. The cost is often more than financial, these crimes have an immense emotional and psychological impact.
If you’re concerned that you have become a victim of a cyber crime, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via their website: Action Fraud