Cybercrime isn’t going away, but hacking prosecutions are falling

PC Plod can’t catch criminals if they don’t have the resources.

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Law firm RPC reports that the number of UK hacking prosecutions has dropped again:

The number of computer hacking prosecutions fell for the second successive year in 2017, despite the ever-increasing threat to businesses and individuals

The number of prosecutions under the UK’s Computer Misuse Act in 2017, which covers unauthorised access to computer material, fell to 47 in 2017, down 18% from 57 in 2016.

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Cause for celebration? Have UK hackers determined that the chances of them getting caught and the penalties they will receive are so great that it just isn’t worth it?

Somehow I very much doubt that’s the reason there has been a drop in UK hacking prosecutions.

Law enforcement agencies in the UK simply don’t have the resources to investigate anything but the most high profile hacking cases. And with many cybercrime attacks having an overseas element, an investigation’s length, cost, and complexity only multiplies, and the chances diminish of successfully bringing those responsible to justice.

Just look at the numbers. In March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its Crime Survey for England and Wales, there were an estimated 1.7 million cyber-related crimes in the UK last year.

Richard Breavington, a partner at RPC, sums up the situation well:

“Police forces are doing their best with the resources they have but the scale of the problem means businesses cannot necessarily rely on the police to really help them when there is a cybercrime.”

It’s no wonder so many have been tempted by a life of cybercrime.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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