Cambridgeshire crowned UK's 'data breach capital'

Landscape picture taken in the UK city of Cambridge
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Cambridgeshire has experienced the sharpest rise in cyber crime in the UK after businesses in the area saw the number of criminal cases rise by 49% between 2016 and 2018.

An analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows the number of offences rose from 2,789 to 4,155 in Cambridgeshire during the three-year period. This was the sharpest increase from the 20 UK regions examined.

This was followed by North Wales, which saw a similar rise of 47% between 2016 and 2018, from 2,126 to 3,133 cases, according to internet service provider FastHosts.

Thames Valley sustained the largest number of offences in absolute terms in 2018, the latest year for which figures are available, with 13,070 cases and an increase of 38% over the three-year period.

The second-highest number of cases in 2018 was seen in Greater Manchester, with 11,640 offences registered, followed by the West Midlands, with 11,477 cases.

All 20 regions saw an increase in cyber crime across this period, however, the slowest rise was sustained in Dorset and Cleveland, with a 22% climb between 2016 and 2018. The former saw offences rise from 2,848 to 3,463, while the latter saw an increase from 1,431 to 1,748.

Cleveland, incidentally, was the region which regarded the lowest number of offences. Cumbria also registered a relatively low number of offences in 2018, 1,777, although was the third-fastest-rising area for cyber crime, experiencing a 40% surge since 2016.

Explaining why Cambridgeshire has sustained this remarkable surge in cyber crime, ESET cyber security specialist Jake Moore told IT Pro that regional disparities such as these may often suggest more education and awareness.

“Criminals rarely pinpoint their accuracy on a region as they tend to reach out en masse to target as many victims as possible for a bigger financial return,” he said.

“That being said, when an area has a sharp increase it may also, in fact, be to do with a rise in awareness of how to report cybercrime. Local police forces do a tremendous amount to help their counties be more vigilant to the national increase in fraud and cybercrime, so this can, in turn, make more people come forward, increasing the reporting figures.”

Cyber crime is certainly on the rise across the UK, and has been since the end of 2018, with a report published in April this year finding as many as 16.5 million Brits fell victim in the last year.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.