The Metropolitan Police claims its soon-to-be-disbanded Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has saved the UK over £1bn in the past two and a half years.
The figure is the amount the Met has calculated would have been lost through the activity of criminal operations it has foiled. The Met said this is double the target set of the PCeU, and delivered in half the time expected.
As well as avoiding £1.01bn of losses, the PCeU has charged 126 suspects, convicted 89 cyber criminals with a further 30 people awaiting trial, disrupted 26 national and international organised cyber crime groups and seen 61 criminals imprisoned for a total of 184 years.
"The PCeU has exceeded all expectations in respect of making the UK’s cyberspace more secure,” said commander Steve Rodhouse, head of gangs and organised crime at the Met Police.
“This is due to its innovative partnership work with industry and law enforcement across the globe and its dynamic system for developing intelligence, enforcing the law and quickly putting protection measures in place.”
The PCeU has been the national lead unit for investigating cyber crime, but from October its responsibilities are passing to the new National Cyber Crime Unit, part of the National Crime Agency.
The biggest savings were £152m from Operation Loyosa – although no details of that case were revealed in the report – and £130m from Operation Westphalian, which led to “an in-depth understanding of both the structure and capabilities of the organised crime group” involved.
Smaller savings of £8.4m - but a potentially high-profile cyber attack - were derived from a PCeU operation that employed pre-emptive disruption tactics to keep dedicated video streaming of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton online despite an attempted denial of service attack. A 16-year old was subsequently arrested for inciting others to join in the attack.
Other operations included shutting down sophisticated phishing scams by organised crime groups targeting banks.
"Developing a national policing response to this new and evolving criminal methodology has been extremely challenging, however, the PCeU has enjoyed outstanding success during its time as the national lead on combating cyber crime in the UK,” said Detective Superintendent Terry Wilson from the PCeU.