The Home Affairs Committee has published its first report on e-crime and warned that cyber-crime is too often falling into a “black hole” where it is not reported to the police and banks simply reimburse victims without pursuing those responsible.
After a 10-month inquiry led by the cross-party committee it recommended that a state-of-the-art espionage response team should be established. It would provide a point of contact which companies, institutions and media can report an attack to.
The MPs also claimed that more police officers should be trained to detect cyber-crime, more resources made available to combat the problem, and dedicated cyber specialists should be brought in when required. It also called for e-crime experts to be protected from cuts.
The Committee was told that the UK was the main online target of criminal gangs operating in 25 countries. It stated it was “deeply concerned” that EU partner countries are not doing enough to prevent cyber-attacks from criminals within their countries on the UK.
“We are being too complacent about these E-wars because the victims are hidden in cyberspace. The threat of a cyber-attack to the UK is so serious it is marked as a higher threat than a nuclear attack.
“You can steal more on the internet than you can by robbing a bank and online criminals in 25 countries have chosen the UK as their number one target. Astonishingly, some are operating from EU countries.
“If we don’t have a 21st century response to this 21st century crime, we will be letting those involved in these gangs off the hook.”
The committee stated it had been informed that a quarter of the UK’s 800 specialist internet crime officers could be lost due to budget cuts.
Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “It is extremely concerning that relentless cuts to policing are continuing at a time when there is a burgeoning cyber-crime industry.
“Crime is clearly changing, not falling at the rate the figures suggest, and an unknown but extremely high number of offences are going unreported. The police service needs greater, not fewer, resources to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers added there is “absolutely” more that can be done to combat e-crime and the police is “continually adapting” to meet the threat posed by cyber-criminals.