Cybercrime in the UK

A new report commisoned by Garlick, a UK vendor of privacy management services, on the subject of UK Cybercrime, contains some interesting findings. Such surveys are essential reading for security professionals as they help to fill in pieces of the slowly forming but largely incomplete jigsaw of cybercrime activity in the UK.

Of course, as with any survey that might have been carried primarily for marketing purposes, it’s necessary to take any estimated figures with a pinch of salt. Some are scaled up from previous surveys. For example the staggering figure of 1.93 million on-line (email) harrassment cases is estimated on the basis of an earlier survey which indicated that 8% of adults using the Internet were victims. But nevertheless, the survey indicates a massive, growing problem for cybercrime offences against the person. And it’s interesting also to note that “cyber crimes are just as prevalent as traditional crimes. In 2006 the incidents of online financial fraud doubled the number of robberies taking place”. Which suggests that UK law enforcement strategy might not have the balance right.

The report also points out that “computer misusers tend not to consider their actions as immoral”. And interestingly, the experts have already coined a term for this lack of virtual moral consensus. It’s called “toxic disinhibition”. However not everything is neatly defined. The report also points out that “although the term ‘cybercrime’ is now in everyday use, the first problem encountered in measuring cybercrime is that there is no commonly-agreed definition of the term”. And, unfortunately, that can undermine the credibility of any cybercrime survey that relies on figures from earlier studies.