Cyber crime

There are two key cyber threats facing the UK at present. These are the use of cyber tools and techniques to: 

  • cause significant financial loss to UK citizens, businesses and government
  • penetrate or disrupt computer networks of UK public and private sector organisations to cause reputational damage, significant distress and risk to life or security

Organised crime has been quick to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Internet, particularly the growth in e-commerce and online banking. Specialist criminal groups target individuals, small businesses and large corporate networks to steal personal information in bulk in order to profit from the compromised data available to them. 

Protect your personal safety online 
The vast majority of consumers use the internet without any problems. However anyone can fall prey to cyber criminals if they do not take basic security precautions when online. Here are some of the best ways to keep safe online:

•    No bank or card issuer will contact you by email and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, then delete it

•    If you receive an email from an unknown source, do not open it and do not click on any attachments

•    Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date

•    Install an anti-spyware package 

•    Always use a firewall

•    Ensure that your software is up to date

For example, Windows software is routinely updates on the second Tuesday of each month (security updates are issued on that date). Should a critical update be necessary between monthly updates, make sure it is installed immediately.

Find out more about Online threats to consumers

The National cyber crime unit (NCCU) is the part of the NCA that helps fight cyber crime in the UK. Find out more about the National Cyber Crime Unit.

Reporting online fraud
To report fraud or online crime contact Action Fraud 

You can also find advice on protecting yourself online from Get Safe Online (GSOL)

Protecting businesses and organisations online

Hacking is the primary method for infiltrating networks. Through the injection of specialist software, hackers seek to gain unauthorised access to computer networks and systems and take administrative control of these.

Successful hacking attacks can compromise data stored on the network of individuals, products, strategic plans, sensitive data and commercial data. This data is often then sold on to fraudsters. 

Hacking also has the potential of putting the operation of systems which control physical infrastructure at risk. 

Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks
DDOS attacks prevent legitimate access to online services by swamping the communications links with a mass of traffic so that users are unable to access the service as it can not handle the volume of incoming traffic. 

These attacks are usually undertaken through the use of botnets – a group of compromised, controlled computers which involuntarily send messages simultaneously to the computer or server.