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Hacks reported

People are beginning to report crimes of hacking to their local police force, according to a think-tank. A research paper, titled Hack Attack: Police Under Pressure, found that 14 police forces launched a total of 2,547 investigations into reports of computer and social media hacking over the last two financial years, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.

Cases ranged from telephone hacking and a virus deployed into a business server which had encrypted personal data files, to personal hacks of social media for thefts of photos or inappropriate and abusive messages; perhaps posted under the user’s profile.

In the most recent financial year, Cleveland Police was reported the most incidents of hacking, with a total of 356 reports recorded. Next came Nottinghamshire Police which reported 246 cases of hacking. The largest increase of incidents between the two years was the West Midlands force with an increase from 277 crimes reported to 329 – an increase of 19 per cent. Second with the largest increase was Nottinghamshire with 204 reports in 2016/17, rising to 246 in 2017/18.

Sheila Flavell, Chair of the Institute of Coding and COO of FDM Group says: “It’s clear that the tidal wave of cybercrime is draining the resources of police forces as well as businesses. Tackling this problem requires a concerted effort to recruit staff equipped with the latest cyber skills as well as extending education and training opportunities to existing employees. As part of this effort, it’s vital that industry works more closely with academic institutions, to develop specialist flexible courses, so that skills within workforces increase dramatically.”

Parliament Street researchers issued Freedom of Information (FOI) requests on reported hacking crimes to all police forces in England in August 2018. Some 14 forces responded to the request in full. The think-tank asked for detail on the number of crimes which fall under the Computer Misuse act in the last two financial years which mention hacking, smart device or connected device.

The think-tank called for mandatory national cyber training for police officers and staff; social media sites and technology firms to do more to support police in tracking down perpetrators of hacking crimes, including offering training for officers on how to navigate technology to identify evidence and capture the culprits; and for police forces to dramatically increase the recruitment of STEM qualified officers.


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