Over five million cases of cybercrime and fraud occurred in 2016, according to the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), making it the most common offence in the country.  Professional firms must redouble their efforts to protect themselves against cyber criminals, with effective data protection and robust cyber-liability insurance cover, or face the risk of serious losses, warns Brunel Professions.

Over 2 million cases of computer misuse and 3.6 million cases of fraud occurred in 2016 the survey revealed.  But many of these crimes go unreported, with the police only recording 622,000 fraud offences, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The figures for fraud and computer misuse show how behind the curve our statistics have fallen,” reported Dominic Casciani, BBC home affairs correspondent.  “The brutal fact is that nobody knows how big the problem is. It is massively underreported and, outside of London, it is arguable that national policing hasn’t yet got the skills or the expert manpower it needs.”

Computer misuse crimes include hacking into personal information as well as computer virus and malware ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ attacks, while frauds include criminals accessing bank accounts and credit cards to steal money.

Emily Orton, director at security firm Darktrace, says that it is possible for attackers to hide their activities.  “When it comes to more sophisticated attacks, often the individuals or companies targeted are not aware that their data is being used, changed or corrupted,” she said.

Professional firms are vulnerable to attack with client data and financial records a target for criminals believes James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions.  “It’s a sad fact that many firms will be targeted by cyber criminals, leaving them vulnerable to theft of money or client data.  Professional practices are extremely reliant on technology nowadays, and serious hacking attacks can leave firms unable to operate or facing reputational damage if client data is lost. There may also be consequences with a firm’s regulating body. We have seen instances of client accounts being frozen and the ongoing viability of the firm hanging in the balance whilst the issue is resolved.”

“Firms must have high quality network protection in place, backed up by effective cyber-liability insurance cover to provide them with the financial and technical resources they need to get back up and running after an attack,” he said.

The CSEW figures have been widely reported, including by the BBC, The Telegraph, Computer Weekly and New Law Journal. The Crime Survey for England and Wales is available on the Office for National Statistics website.

Brunel provides expert cyber-liability insurance broking services to professional firms.  Click here to find out more, or call James Page on +44 (0)117 325 0947.