The latest ONS crime survey for England and Wales is out and it makes grim reading for anyone concerned with their IT security and privacy. After a brief dip in 2019 the number of computer misuse crimes reported was back to record levels not seen since 2017 with 1.8 million being reported in the year to June 2021.
These numbers are even more concerning given they are likely only a small percentage of the actual total when considered in the context of the total number of details which are lost, stolen and sold from large data breaches each year.
The Office for National Statistics commented "This was an 85 per cent increase compared with the year ending June 2019, driven largely by a 161 per cent increase in 'Unauthorised access to personal information (including hacking)' offences.
ONS statistician, Billy Gazard, highlighted the contrast between falls in some crimes being offset by the large increases in computer misuse and fraud. Commenting on the figures he said:
“The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on patterns of crime. There were large decreases in theft offences, such as domestic burglary and theft from the person, as more people stayed at home and limited their social contact.
At the same time, there were substantial increases in fraud and computer misuse offences such as hacking, as fraudsters took advantage of behavioural changes during the pandemic, such as increased online shopping."
An important point to note is this year saw the start of the Telephone-Operated Crime Survey to capture the data for this report as normal face-to-face interviews were suspended.
The full report is available on the Office for National Statistics website.