We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.


September 2009:

This particular report, published in September 2009, is the third consecutive UK Cybercrime Report published by Garlik in an attempt to illuminate the so-called ‘dark figure’ of cybercrime.

As more UK households have Internet access, the greater the potential number of victims for cybercriminals to exploit. In 2009, 18.3 million households in the UK – that is 70% of all households – had Internet access. This is an increase of 11% (around 2 million households) since 2008 and 28% (around 4 million households) since 2006. More households are connected via broadband each year – of those households with Internet access, 90 per cent had a broadband connection in 2009, an increase from 69% in 2006.1

Given the ever-increasing presence of the UK online in connection with the economic downturn, this report focuses on an estimated quantification of cybercrime for the calendar year 2008 whilst considering the effect that the economic climate may have had on the prevalence of different types of cybercrime. For the first time, the report also considers property and Land Registry fraud.

It is not easy to count any sort of crime. Cybercrime is no exception, and there are many pertinent reasons as to why cybercrime is particularly difficult to quantify. This is explored in more detail in Appendix A of the report.

Executive summary
UK cybercrime has rebounded to worrying levels, not seen since 2006, as a result of the recession and consumer complacency, according to Garlik’s annual UK Cybercrime report, now in its third year.

The report, which analyses publicly available data to build a comprehensive view of cybercrime in the UK, revealed that during 2008 cybercriminals adapted to the social and economic changes in the UK to exploit victims in new ways and commit over 3.6 million criminal acts online (that’s over one every 10 seconds). In addition, the researchers believe that there is a growing complacency amongst consumers, demonstrating poor understanding of their responsibility to protect their personal information against fraud.

One of the most significant changes in cybercrime has been the 207% increase in account takeover2 fraud indicating that criminals have now shifted their efforts from opening new accounts with stolen identities to accessing existing accounts. Savvy criminals have got round the drying up of available credit in the current economic climate to maintain their illegal activities.

The report also highlights that online banking fraud has increased by a staggering 132%, with losses totalling £52.5 million, compared to £22.6 million in the previous year. This sharp rise can be mostly attributed to nearly 44,000 phishing websites specifically targeting banks and building societies in the UK.

The total number of cybercrimes has increased annually between 2006 and 2008, however, the good news is that sexual offences have decreased as a category each year. All other categories dipped in 2007 but then in 2008 bounced back above their 2006 figure.

Sexual offences

This category of cybercrime covers a range of conduct that has an objectively ascertainable sexual element. It includes paedophilic activity such as grooming a child for sexual activity.

There was a 3.9% decrease in the number of sexual offences recorded in 200837 in comparison to 200738. The vast majority of these cannot be committed online since they require physical sexual contact between perpetrator and victim.

The most relevant sexual offence in terms of online behaviour is that of ‘meeting a child following sexual grooming’39, which is defined as intentionally meeting40 a person under 1641, having met or communicated on at least two earlier occasions with the intention to commit a ‘relevant offence’42.

Research by Ofcom has found that social networking sites in particular are extremely popular among children in the UK. 49% of children aged eight to 13 have an online profile compared to just 22 per cent of over 16-year-olds. While just

The extent of children being targeted online for sexual purposes is difficult to evaluate. However, there have been some surveys of children’s experience online. A draft report from the Internet Crime Forum estimated that 20% of Internet children using chatrooms have been approached by paedophiles and other undesirables while online.44 Although this report dates from 2001, there seems to be no more recent evaluation of the extent of the problem.

Approximately 80% of adults with children between five and 15 stated that at least one child in the household had accessed the Internet at some time.45 95% of young adults between 16 and 24 access the Internet.46 It is therefore reasonable to assume, as a conservative estimate, that 60% of children between five and 15 access the Internet.

Assuming, then, that 60% of children between five and fifteen access the Internet, then given a population of approximately 6,886,000 between five and fifteen,47 it follows that some 5 million access the Internet and there were therefore an estimated 826,300 instances of unwanted sexual approaches in 2008.48 However, there do not appear to be comprehensive statistics available on this area and those which do exist are outdated. This is disconcerting as there is consequently no official reflection as to the extent of this problem. For 2007/08 the police recorded figure of sexual grooming offences was 272.49 For 2008/09 the recorded figure was 315,50 a 16% increase.

For the remainder of this report: by Stefan Fafinski and Neshan Minassian, Invenio Research

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