FT Cyber Summit: CoL police commander: 'remember the human victims of cyber-crime'

A senior commander for the City of London Police encouraged IT professionals at the FT Cyber Summit to remember the human cost of cyber-crime.

 Commander Greany implored the audience to remember cyber-crime’s smaller victims
Commander Greany implored the audience to remember cyber-crime’s smaller victims

Commander Christopher Greany, national coordinator for economic crime at the City Of London Police, reminded the audience to remember the human victims of cyber-crime at yesterday's FT Cyber Summit.

His talk began with a story. Mr and Mrs Taylor, a couple from South Wales, were contacted one day and being trusting people, handed over some sensitive financial data.

The couple lost 62,000 pounds, much of their savings. As a result they have both had to go on antidepressants and struggle to afford even small gifts for their family at birthdays and Christmastime.

For the purposes of the story the names were changed but then again, who they are really doesn't matter all that much, merely that stories like this happen all too often.

The point here, said Greany is that “the effect globally, from cyber-crime and cyber-enabled fraud goes right down to Mr and Mrs Taylor”.

That doesn't end with vulnerable victims either. Banking regulations for cyber-security have gotten pretty good now, “so what does the criminal do?” asked Greany. Well, he just goes to the next sector and exploits them, maybe even using them to attack the original bank.

To that end, Greany believes there's a lot more cross-sector work to be done.

He'd like to see more information shared with law enforcement, too. He's been pleading for years with banks to share information with them, and says Greany, “I still go into banks and say ‘please share your fraud data'”.

It may well end up being mutually beneficial: “I might have your jigsaw piece, you might have mine”.

Cyber-crime can often seem relatively benign; for many it is a business issue, not the human tragedy that it becomes for so many: “If you look at criminal fraud and cyber, where do you think the money goes to?”.

Even when it has no obvious victims greater than a sum counted against yearly revenue, “just because you can't see or feel the harm” the cash that cyber-crime yields so often goes on to fund gangs whose empires extend into human trafficking and child exploitation.

Reporting can be troublesome, he admitted. “When I say Action Fraud, people sigh,” he said referring to the national reporting line run by the City of London police. But fraud reporting is still better than in a lot of places around the world, he added, “give us time.”