Cybercrime prosecutions under one per cent despite rise in incidents



Richard Breavington

The number of cybercrime prosecutions in the UK represents less than one per cent of reported incidents, despite their increase in the past year.

The latest data show there were 17,900 reported cases of computer hacking in 2018, up 74 per cent from 13,200 in 2017. The most commonly reported types were ‘hacking through social media and email’ (9,030) and ‘hacking – personal’ (4,000).

London law firm RPC said the low proportion of prosecutions reflects the scale of the problems faced by police tackling a crime in which the perpetrators are so difficult to identify and pursue.

Richard Breavington, partner at London law firm RPC, says: “Unfortunately, police action is not much of a dent in the problem of cybercrime.

“Cybercrime has become accepted as a low-risk, potentially high-reward activity for organised criminals. If they act professionally, they can make substantial sums of money with very little chance of being caught.

“Understandably the priorities for policing cybercrime have been in areas which have a potential nation state impact. A result is that the rise of less sensitive cybercrime has gone largely unchecked and it has been left largely to the private sector to deal with.”

RPC explains that many forms of cyberattacks, such as ransomware, can have a serious effect on businesses – potentially creating significant financial losses.

A 2018 report estimates that cybercrime costs the global economy $600 billion each year, or 0.8 per cent of global GDP.

Direct costs include those surrounding the technical investigation into the incident; improvements to IT infrastructure to prevent a similar incident occurring; and any legal costs and compensation payments.

Mr Breavington added: “Cyberattacks can take a significant financial toll on businesses and yet relatively few actually have cyber insurance policies. Businesses cannot solely rely on the police so paying for private sector help through insurance can hold real value.”