E-crime - Home Affairs Committee Contents


1. We live in a world where terms like "Cyber crime" no longer belong in the realm of science fiction. Modern devices such as smart phones and tablets have brought the internet not only to our fingertips but to our bedsides, our pockets and to our children. And yet there is strong evidence that access to such technology, with all its opportunities and benefits, can put our businesses and our families at increasing risk of exploitation and internet-based crime (E-crime).

2. Identity theft, industrial espionage, credit card fraud, phishing, child exploitation - criminals use the internet as a means to commit a wide range of crimes. Perpetrators range from lone hackers, activist groups, Nation States sponsoring industrial espionage and organised criminal gangs. Victims include individuals who fall prey to scams and password theft to multinational companies such as, famously Sony. The financial details of 23,000 users of Sony Online Entertainment were stolen when its networks were breached by hackers in March 2011. The cost of the clean-up was reportedly $172m and the events caused a 9 % share price drop.

3. The internet has also been used to great effect by criminals to trade their cyber wares. Investigators have uncovered sophisticated black market operations such as DarkMarket and ShadowCrew who use the internet to trade cloned credit card data and bank account details, hire botnets (infected networks of computers) and deliver hacking tutorials. Although difficulties in establishing precise figures about the rate and the cost of cyber crime are acknowledged there is general agreement on its rapidly growing scale. Norton have calculated its global cost to be $388bn dollars a year in terms of financial losses and time lost. This is significantly more than the combined annual value of $288bn of the global black market trade in heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

4. UK governments have had a centralised approach to cyber crime and wider cyber threats since the launch of the UK's first Cyber Security Strategy in June 2009 and the corresponding National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) launched in November 2011. In the course of this inquiry we have looked specifically at the Home Office's remit under its much heralded Cyber Security Strategy.

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Prepared 30 July 2013