The National Crime Agency (NCA) is urging businesses to make use of the cybercrime reporting paths available to them and to share intelligence with law enforcement and each other, in an effort to clamp down on this rising problem in the corporate world.
According to the organisation, cybercrime should be treated not only as a technical issue but as a board-level responsibility, arguing that existing levels of under-reporting continue to obscure the full impact of cybercrime in the UK. The NCA says that this shortfall in reporting hampers the process for law enforcement to understand the operating methods of those responsible for these crimes and provides an obstacle in developing an effective response to the threat.
The NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit leads the UK's response to cybercrime, working in partnership with police forces, regional organised crime units and international law enforcement partners, to share intelligence and identify and disrupt the most significant cybercriminals worldwide.
Jamie Saunders, director at the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit, said: "This is the first time the NCA has released a joint assessment with industry on cybercrime, and it is a good example of the collaborative approach between business, law enforcement and government that we need to cultivate and strengthen if we are to succeed.
"I hope that senior members of UK business, and not only those involved in the protection of their IT systems, take note of its contents and think seriously about ways that they can improve their defences and help law enforcement in the fight against cybercrime."
The NCA's message to businesses comes after the publication of its Cyber Crime Assessment 2016, which outlines the immediate threat posed to UK organisations by cybercrime. It is the inaugural report of its kind produced by the agency and industry partners.
Threats from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and ransomware attacks increased significantly in 2015, according to the document, while the most advanced and serious cybercrime threat to the UK is reportedly the direct or indirect result of just a few hundred international cybercriminals, who target UK companies to commit highly profitable, malware-facilitated fraud.
Data breaches were cited as the most common cybercrimes committed against businesses and the NCA estimates that cybercrime costs the UK economy billions of pounds per year.
2015 saw the Office for National Statistics trial the inclusion of cybercrime in the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales for the first time, with the body estimating that there were 2.46 million cyber incidents and 2.11 million victims of cybercrime in the UK during the calendar year. The NCA argues that these figures show the clear shortfall in established reporting, with only 16,349 cyber-dependent and approximately 700,000 cyber-enabled incidents reported to Action Fraud over the same period.
The UK government is set to publish its new National Cyber Security Strategy soon, where it will detail plans to invest £1.9 billion in cybersecurity over the next five years to protect the UK from this growing problem.