A new era of crime gives rise to an unprecedented number
of online offences and computer fraud. Almost half the crimes
reported in the UK in the 12 months leading up to September last
year, were related to fraud or computer misuse, according to the
Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Last month, the ONS released figures showing that 11.8 million
crimes were reported in the UK from September 2015 to September
2016, and 5.6 million of those were computer misuse or fraud
Last November, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a new
five-year Ł1.9billion scheme to help prevent Cybercrime in
the UK. Mr Hammond's aim is to increase know-how throughout the
UK workforce. "Cyber skills need to reach into every
profession," he said.
The National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) is the arm of the National
Crime Agency (NCA) deployed to combat crimes committed using online
or electronic media. Since 2010, it has been widely acknowledged by
security agencies, including the NCA and its predecessor, the
Serious Organise Crime Agency, as well as Interpol and other
international forces, that Cybercrime represents a significant
threat to national security.
The NCA investigates individuals and networks suspected of
committing the following types of prohibited acts, among
Offences under The Computer Misuse Act 1990
Unauthorised access to computers under this statute is
punishable by a custodial sentence of up to two years. The purpose
of this legislation is to protect businesses and individuals from
wilful attacks and thefts of information.
Malware and phishing offences.
Phishing is a method used by fraudsters to access valuable
personal details, such as passwords and PIN numbers. Often, these
criminals then pass the details on to third parties for monetary
gain. Phishing can also include sending viruses or
'malicious' email attachments with a view to infecting
others' electronic equipment, such as computers or mobile
Hacking is the most commonly used method for infiltrating
networks. Hackers use specialist software, often created by
themselves or other cybercriminals, to gain unauthorised access to
computer networks, such as business intranets or encrypted
programs. The hackers then take administrative control of these and
glean such sensitive information as strategic plans and commercial
data. Again, the hackers often then sell this data on to fraudsters
for a fee. The process of hacking undeniably puts the operation of
e-commerce at risk.
This is an advanced practice where fraudsters are able to track
your key strokes, which is another method of gleaning sensitive
information for use in unlawful pursuits.
Distributed Denial of Service attacks aim to prevent legitimate
access to online services. Cybercriminals do this by overwhelming
communication links with a mass of traffic. The result of this is
that users are unable to access or publish on the service owing to
the fact it cannot handle the volume of incoming traffic. Better
known forms of these attacks are 'Trojans' and
'email-bombs'. In a commercial world where online services
are key, these attacks can be tantamount to restraints of
Other activities the NCA investigates include; cloning, internet
fraud, identity theft and bitcoin fraud.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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