Analogue criminals are going digital, says police study

More and more criminals are being drawn to online crime because of the perception that it's easy and relatively risk free.

That's according to research by Bedfordshire police which found that many online criminals had previous history for committing crimes in the real world including theft, burglary, shoplifting and a range of violent crimes.

Jon Boutcher, deputy chief constable of Bedfordshire, spoke to convicted online criminals and found that 64 percent had convictions for non-cyber offences.

Lawrence Sherman, director of Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology said: “I was really surprised to see the presence of violent crime in what we normally think of as a fairly nerdy thing to do: to sit in your bedroom all by yourself and rip people off.”

The data provided strong evidence that traditional criminals were being diverted into cyber-crime, he said in comments to the Financial Times.

The comments back up comments by Adrian Leppard, Commissioner of the City of London Police, who said recently that international gangsters are abandoning drug dealing and other high risk activities in favour of cyber-crime.

He estimates that as many as 25 percent of organised criminals in Britain are involved in financial crime which often involves an element of online activity and is one of the few types of crime which is bucking the overall downward trend in all types of crime.

Leppard believes that criminals are turning their attention to the internet because it is low risk and high yield. This is compounded by a reluctance of the public to report cyber-crime which results in as many as 80 percent of these crimes going unreported and, de facto, not investigated.

He said businesses and the public would have to continue to do more to protect themselves and urged the government to create a recognised standard for software security that vendors could compete for.