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Reclassification Of Cybercrime ‘Critical To Improving Cyber Defences’

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Office for National Statistics’ move to incorporate cyber crime into official crime statistics long overdue, says certification body APMG

Cybercrime has formally emerged as the single largest type of offence in the UK following the reclassification of crimes by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The reclassification – which has formally increased the number of crimes set out in the Crime Survey of England and Wales by around 40 percent – has been welcomed by APMG International, a global examination institute specialising in professional certifications.

Greater awareness

The certification body says the move will drive greater awareness of cybercrime, assist law enforcement agents, and encourage businesses to up their defences.

laptop fingerprint with crime scene tape across it © zimmytws - FotoliaThe Office for National Statistics has incorporated fraud and cybercrimes into its crime figures for the first time, in a move that has seen it officially become the UK’s most common offence. By including cybercrime, the estimated number of annual offences has increased from 6.8 million to around 11.6 million, though some experts think the real number is significantly higher.

Richard Pharro, CEO of APMG, said: “Official statistics have, to date, failed to include this modern crime. When we consider the fact that the global cost of cybercrime was found to have surpassed that of the drug industry back in 2011, this change is long overdue.

“Not counting these offences alongside more traditional ones has artificially depressed the statistics and denied the very real impact that cyber crime has on citizens and businesses.

“This isn’t simply an academic question of definitions or a question of what does – or doesn’t – make it on to the ONS’s ledger. With an incomplete picture of the criminal landscape, it has been difficult for many organisations to understand the very real threat of cybercrime and develop a strategy to reduce the likelihood of them becoming a victim.”

Reclassification demonstrates a recognition within Government of the scale and impact of these crimes and is critical to establishing a common understanding among businesses of what the threats are and how they can be protected against, according to APMG.

Pharro added: “Being aware of the potential threats is the first step towards managing and mitigating cyber security risks, which is one of the reasons why assessment and certification schemes are so important. The Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme, for example, provides a solid foundation of basic measures for enterprises of all sizes.

“The scheme provides a clear and accessible framework to ensuring an organisation takes cyber security seriously and is able to defend against the majority of threats. With Government initiatives, industry support and unique assessment tools there really are no excuses.”

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