Cybercriminals are leaving the UK’s defences in the dust

The National Crime Agency has highlighted a severe mismatch between cybercrime and the UK’s collective response to the problem. As things stand, our businesses and police forces are losing the “cyber arms race,” which should be a concern to pretty much everyone  criminals aside  given the rate of digital adoption.

The NCA’s Cyber Crime Assessment 2016 reported a total of 2.46 million incidents last year, including a whopping 700,000 instances of fraud. Worse still, this figure is actually an optimistic glass-half-full reading, as the report highlights that cybercrime has a serious under-reporting problem. Meanwhile, international gangs  some of which have grown enough to have their own call centres and translators  are among the biggest threats to UK business.

While the government is planning to spend £1.9 billion on defences against cybercrime over the next five years, the NCA believes this is insufficient in isolation, given that the capability and technology of criminals is increasing all the time. “This ‘cyber arms race’ is likely to be an enduring challenge, and an effective response requires collaborative action from government, law enforcement, industry regulators and, critically, business leaders,” the report explains.nca_cyber_crime_outpacing_defence

So what are the answers, according to the report? “Only by working together across law enforcement and the private sector can we successfully reduce the threat to the UK from cybercrime,” it reads.

What is needed is a partnership approach to mitigating threats and identifying and disrupting criminals. Closer working between law enforcement and business to identify and arrest serious ‘upstream’ cybercriminals will protect businesses, stop future attacks and reduce the threat.

“Cybercrime response should therefore be treated as a strategic priority and include a stronger public-private partnership to investigate, report and combat cybercrime.”

In short, our response to cybercrime has too often been to build better defences, without enough information-sharing to tackle threats as a united front. Whether or not the report will act as a call-to-arms to popularise this approach is another matter.

Images: Christiaan Colen and Ivan David Gomez Arce used under Creative Commons

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