UK cybercrime study reveals substantial financial losses for the public

A novel investigation into the prevalence of UK cybercrime has revealed a financial loss of £5.7m to British people and businesses so far in 2021.

The study, conducted by PPC Shield – an industry leader in click fraud prevention – has identified 14,883 incidents of UK cybercrime since the start of the year, equating to £5.7m in financial losses, with 90% of the offences made against the public.

The investigation signified that the most common forms of UK cybercrime are fraudulent use of social media accounts, malicious hacking, and emails scams, which accounted for 43% of all reported incidents since January 1. Other offences experienced at a high frequency are personal hacking, extortion, and reports of malware/viruses.

UK Cybercrime: Targeting the younger generation

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau compiled an extensive set of data that illustrated that the younger demographics are the most affected by cybercrime in the UK, with those under the age of 40 reporting the most incident this year, around 5,000 in total. Experts believe the reason for this is that younger people are more tech-savvy, meaning they are more likely to have various email addresses, social media accounts, and banking apps, making them a far more lucrative target.

Although UK cybercrime against business only accounts for 10% of the total reported offences, this still equates to £1.9m in financial losses, a third of the total amount.

Effects of cybercrime

ONS data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) has highlighted that 72% of people affected by UK cybercrime had suffered emotional distress from their experience, with around 30% stating a moderate to severe impact, primarily anger and annoyance.

Of those victims of UK cybercrime, 10% said they experienced depression, anxiety, fear, or difficulty sleeping. These emotions of concern and terror may be due to the faceless nature of the cybercrime, as 81% of the offences were committed by an individual who was not known to the victim.

How offences are perpetrated

The tools utilised to conduct cybercrime are constantly evolving, with the preferred methods of online criminals changing dramatically in recent years. According to Google’s Transparency Report, malware – which is software that causes damage to a computer, client, server, or network – is at its lowest point since 2007. In contrast, phishing websites that are employed to steal private information such as credit card information and passwords have increased by over 750% since 2007.

In all UK cybercrime cases that incurred a financial loss, around a third of the victims were made aware of the offence through being notified by their bank, building society, or other financial institution.

When factoring in non-cyber assisted fraud, there has been 253,736 reports that equate to total financial losses of £1.2bn this year, which experts believe has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, a significant rise in phishing scams occurred, with individuals posing as the NHS to charge for fake testing kits and track and trace information. Additionally, a significant amount of people fell victim to fraudulent mobile phone and text scams as cyber scammers attained vital information by pretending to be bank employees or the HMRC.

A spokesperson for PPC Shield commented: “With the internet being such an essential part of our daily lives, taking care online and using robust security measures are of utmost importance. Always be aware of what you are clicking on and be especially wary of phishing sites and emails sent from companies or individuals that you are not familiar with.”

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