Computer Crime Research Center


Cybercrime now becoming a serious problem for many Britons

Date: October 27, 2014

Many Britons have been the victim of a cybercrime such as identity theft, hacking or abuse on social media, new research has found. UK losses from online fraud are now running at more than £670m a year, though with many cases going unreported, the true economic cost is likely to be significantly higher.

The data – which follows the outcry over private photos of celebrities published by hackers – was produced to coincide with Get Safe Online Week, which runs until 26 October and is aimed at raising awareness of internet security issues.

Just over half (51%) of the 2,075 people surveyed said they had been a victim of online crime, a category which includes internet-based fraud, ID theft, hacking and online abuse. Of those, 50% said they felt either very or extremely violated by their ordeal, according to Get Safe Online, an internet security awareness initiative that is a joint partnership between the government, the National Crime Agency, the telecoms regulator Ofcom, law enforcement bodies and a number of major companies including Barclays and PayPal.

However, fewer than a third (32%) of the cybercrime victims said they had reported the incident. Around half (47%) of those affected did not know who to report an online crime to, though a spokesman for the initiative said this figure was expected to fall as a result of the ongoing work of Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, and the “considerable government resources” now dedicated to fighting cybercrime.

On a more positive note, those who had suffered some form of cybercrime said the experience had shocked them into changing their behaviour for the better, with almost half (45%) opting for stronger passwords and 42% saying they were now more vigilant when shopping online.

Separate figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau showed that for the UK as a whole, more than £670m was lost to the 10 most common online frauds between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.

Tony Neate, chief executive of Get Safe Online, said: “Our research shows just how serious a toll cybercrime can take, both on the wallet and on wellbeing, and this has been no more apparent than in the last few weeks, with various large-scale personal photo hacks of celebrities and the general public. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common now that we live more of our lives online.”

He added: “Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’, and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you are finished. The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (where you have lost money), report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 20 40 or visiting If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, report it to your local police force. For general advice on how to stay safe online go to

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