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Cybercrime isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is receiving renewed levels of interest both here and across the world. With it being Safer Internet Day, now’s a good time to cover some of the main concerns being expressed by the government, the potential implications of the Serious Crime Bill, and the ‘true’ scale of cybercrime. 

The truth is that online fraud is estimated to cost the UK upwards of £670m each year, and the threats are becoming much more complex and damaging than ever before. By and large, the majority of these frauds, as damaging as they are, are predominantly where individuals and organisations are the victim. 

The worry this type of crime can cause is alarming too. In Russell Webster’s blog he comments on some stats from Statista, although admittedly not in the UK,  that show people are more worried about hacking than they are being burgled, mugged or murdered. As shocking as that sounds, it does shed light on how real a threat cybercrime is. 

People in the UK are clearly not worried enough to make significant changes to their password and pin securities judging by some of the research though. The government has certainly got its work cut out in changing some quite stubborn online behaviours. However, the set-up of Action Fraud, the UK’s National Fraud Reporting Centre, will hopefully generate more awareness of how to report incidents. The service is operated by the City of London Police as well as the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Their primary responsibility is to make sure that all reported frauds reach the right place. After all, in the Get Safe Online survey during 2014, only 32% of cybercrime victims reported the incident, with many not knowing who to address their complaint to. 

In the most severe cases, the government is making history with the introduction of the Serious Crime Bill.

Part 2 of the Bill creates a new criminal offence of unauthorised acts in relation to a computer (computer hacking) that causes serious damage to human welfare, the environment, the economy or national security in any country. In current law, the most serious computer hacking offence is that of unauthorised access to impair the operation of a computer under s. 3 of the 1990 Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment. The Serious Crime Bill effectively creates a new offence of unauthorised acts causing serious damage. Where the attack results in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security the maximum sentence is life imprisonment. Where the attack causes serious economic or environmental damage or social disruption the maximum sentence is 14 years’ imprisonment.

This Bill has now completed its committee stage with the remaining stages expected on Monday 23 February 2015.

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