Adrian Leppard, the Commissioner of the City of London Police, has warned that online fraud and financial crimes are the biggest threat to the safety of everyday people in the UK.
Things that we now take for granted, such as online-banking or online-shopping, are opportunities for cybergangs to access our personal data and use it for their personal gain.
This is now the era of preventative self-policing.
The City of London Police is responsible for investigating some of the most high-profile and complex cases of economic crime, more specifically fraud investigation, corporate communication, and counter-terrorism. It also hosts the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), now established as the UK’s central fraud and cyber crime intelligence hub, where thousands of reports of fraud are dealt with daily.
Adrian Leppard is clear in his message: “We estimate that around 25 per cent of the organised crime groups in this country are now involved in financial crime in one shape or another, but that intelligence only relates to this country. We can’t tell what the picture is internationally.”
I have written on the international picture regarding cybercrime, with the Carbanak multi-national gang of cyber criminals reported to have stolen over $1 billion from over 100 financial institutions in 30 countries.
Cybercrime is the one of the fastest growing types of crime in the UK. It is a growth industry with high returns and low risks.
Even more worryingly, Leppard estimates that 80 per cent of cybercrimes are not even reported.
Clearly we need to change our attitude toward cybercrime and recognise it as a serious part of our everyday lives. It is only our compliance, in both our personal and professional lives, which will combat this constant threat.
Leppard agrees that the only way forward is by taking a different approach: individuals and businesses must now take responsibility for their own everyday compliance activities to ensure that they are protecting themselves and each other.
As Leppard states: “It is very difficult to attack this in a traditional way, to gather intelligence, identify the core problem and then address it through enforcement and prosecution.”
Tackling cybercrime, therefore, is about taking preventative measures that are centred around self-compliance.
Leppard continues: “We have to turn this into a prevention mission so that every member of the public and every business that uses the Internet knows what they need to do to protect themselves.”
And this is the foundation of The City of London Police’s decision to invest in the Metacompliance compliance software.
As Gary Brailsford-Hart, the Head of Information Services for the City of London Police, comments: “In a time of austerity, the purchase of any new software solution must provide demonstrable return on investment as well as seeking to deliver value-added benefits beyond its initial scope. We have been able to demonstrate a number of cross-departmental benefits including the support of operational policing as well as good corporate business practices.”
The central business practice, for the City of London Police as well as all organisations with an online presence, is managing compliance activities that ensure the safety of personal data.
Leppard’s final word is that this is not going to be a quick fix.
Cybercrime is a unique threat that is constantly evolving. Cybergangs are becoming more sophisticated in their spear-phising tactics and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to educate ourselves about the threat, engage in compliance activities that ensure the safety of our personal data and the data we work with, and finally, if necessary, take steps to enforce these procedures until they become part of our everyday routines.
It’s up to us to be responsible for our own education, engagement, and enforcement of these simple compliance activities that will ensure we are taking the necessary preventative measures for our own self-protection.