Speaking at the National Hi-Tec Crime Unit’s (NHTCU) second e-crime congress, Sir John said the police currently found it difficult to identify and tackle online crime.
He blamed widespread public ignorance, made worse because much of cyber crime is invisible to internet users. He called for people to come forward and act responsibly to help police investigations, saying both individuals and businesses were at risk.
A NHTCU survey found that more than four in five companies said they had experienced a hi-tech crime attack last year. And the problem was rapidly worsening, Sir John said.
The nature of the crimes indicates that organised hi-tech crime gangs are growing stronger. Financial fraud was the biggest problem, accounting for losses of £121m in 2003 and affecting 62% of all companies surveyed. This figure includes financial loss, loss of business and reduced customer confidence.
Virus attacks were admitted to by 77% of those surveyed, costing companies £27.8m to clean up, with data theft costing companies £6.6m and denial of service attacks a further £1.3m.
Rogue employees are still a problem for companies – costing around £23m in 2003 with other types of hi-tech crime put at around £8m for the year.
But Detective Chief Superintendent, Len Hynds, head of the NHTCU, said that the figure could be far worse as many firms don’t admit to having their security breached.
‘Whilst it is too early to put an accurate figure on the total financial impact for UK businesses, all the indicators suggest that we are talking about billions rather than millions,’ he said.
Both the NTHCU and the Bill Hughes, director general of the National Crime Squad called on industry to be more open and proactive with law enforcement agencies to help tackle cyber crime.
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