UK Government research shows 1/2 of Britons are cybercrime victims


Around half of British web users have been victims of cybercrime, according to figures from the Cabinet Office, and a significant number of them have no idea how to report the crime.

According to a survey commissioned to coincide with Get Safe Online Week, which runs this week, 51 per cent of people have been a victim of online crime resulting in a financial loss.

The crimes include identity theft, hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses, but the study found that less than a third (32 per cent) reported these crimes.

Around half (47 per cent) of victims did not report a crime as they had no idea who to contact in the event of such a crime.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said raising public awareness would help people avoid becoming a victims of cybercrime.

"The UK cyber market is worth over 80 billion a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year," he said.

"As part of this government's long-term economic plan, we want to make the UK one of the most secure places to do business in cyberspace. We have a 860 million Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement's response to cybercrime and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.

"Our Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves. Cyber security is not an issue for government alone - we must all take action to defend ourselves against threats," he added.

The study found cybercrime victims did take steps to improve their internet behaviour afterwards. Nearly half (45 per cent) opted for stronger passwords and 42 per cent became extra vigilant when shopping online. Over a third (37 per cent) always logged out of accounts when they go offline and nearly a fifth (18 per cent) have changed their security settings on their social media accounts.

"Cheap and easy access to the internet is changing the world and transforming our lives. What many of us may be less aware of is that financial crime has moved online and poses a major threat to people of all ages and from all walks of life living in the UK today," said Detective Superintendent Pete O'Doherty, head of the City of London Police's NFIB.

"I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report to Action Fraud," he added.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.