A massive drop in the incidence of computer virus infections drove a 33 percent decrease in the amount of computer crime against households, but this should not disguise the fact that well over half of fraud attacks occurred online, according to national crime statistics.
The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW), seen as a more accurate indicator of individuals’ real experience of crime than police crime statistics, found that the number of attacks by ‘computer viruses’ fell to 534,000 offences in the year to September 2018, a 45 percent drop on the previous year.
However, reports of ‘unauthorised access to personal information’ which includes hacking stayed largely unchanged at 470,000 incidents, according to the report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Cyber-enabled crime was implicated in 56 percent of all fraud cases and this rises to 83 for the narrower category of consumer and retail fraud.
And Action Fraud, which also collects statistics from business, found that computer misuse rose by 12 percent. While reports of computer viruses dropped, it saw a 35 percent increase in social media and email hijacking.
The CSEW said high volume crimes involving bank and credit account fraud remained largely unchanged (-3%) at 2.3 million incidents, but this slight decline was more than compensated for by a massive jump in lower volume categories – consumer and retail fraud rose 34 percent to one million and ‘other fraud’ jumped 109 percent to 97,000 incidents – which drove the overall seven percent increase in total incidence of fraud reported to the survey.
While the incidence of fraud increased only slightly, it is important to note that well over half of fraud was cyber enabled, the survey report said.
The CSEW has only been measuring computer misuse as a category since 2015, but it now shows that this is the predominant source of victimisation in England and Wales.
Not surprising, 93% of ‘computer misuse’ was cyber enabled, according to the survey.
Fraser Kyne, EMEA CTO at Bromium, commented: "Once again we’ve seen a drop in computer misuse for consumers from CSEW, but what’s particularly interesting is that Action Fraud – which collects data from businesses – saw a 12% overall rise in reported cases, driven by an increase in email and social accounts being compromised."