Should we be worried about cybercrime?


Levels of concern about cybercrime are high, with most people agreeing that cybercrime is on the increase and about two thirds expressing concern about data security. But are our worries warranted?

Figures from the most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales suggested that 4.4% of people reported being a victim of bank or credit card fraud (the most common type of reported cybercrime) in 2015, so this is still not the type of crime that affects most people. Of these, the vast majority either suffered no financial loss or were fully reimbursed. A further point that might keep worries at bay is that it seems that this type of cybercrime is far more prevalent in the USA than the UK.

However, it is not all good news. Other types of crime such as computer viruses and newer computer misuse crimes such as ransomware have the potential to cause chaos to businesses and institutions as demonstrated by the 500,000 computers hit by the WannaCry ransomware recently. And although financial losses to individuals due to a computer virus are still relatively uncommon, these losses are not likely to be reimbursed.

Further, estimates suggest that online fraud is now more common than offline fraud, so clearly we need to be vigilant.

Reimbursement for financial damages is most prevalent for bank and credit account fraud, Source: Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2016

You can read more in our new briefing note, by Laurin B Weissinger of Nuffield College: CSI 30 Cybercrime