The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has produced a report into the current and emerging threats that businesses and other organisations can expect to encounter in the upcoming period.

The National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2014 report covers unsavory topics such as human trafficking and child abuse and exploitation, as well as the use of firearms, drugs, economic and immigration crimes and, of course, cyber crime.

“Crime groups intimidate and corrupt and have a corrosive impact on some communities. Cyber crime undermines confidence in our communications technology and online economy. Organised immigration crime threatens the security of our borders. We regard human trafficking as a pernicious form of modern slavery. Financial crime can undermine the integrity and stability of our financial markets and institutions.”

In the area of computer crime the agency identifies 5 main categories of threat:

  1. Large scale harvesting of personal and business data to commit crimes against both individuals and companies
  2. Targeted attacks designed to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by disrupting competitors through the stealing or erasing of data, reputational damage, or by taking control over infrastructure
  3. An increase in disruption to UK services and networks as a result of a proliferation in targeted DDoS attacks
  4. A larger volume of cyber crime services being traded on underground marketplaces
  5. “Cyber enablers” will be used more frequently by other crime actors

The first of those threats is likely to remain constant over the coming year whilst the second may increase. All three of the other threats are believed to be rising now and will continue to do so over the next one to three years, the report says.

“Specialist service providers and bespoke toolkits are opening opportunities for those criminals who have limited technical competence. Different organised crime groups who share the use of key criminal technical and other infrastructures is a growing threat. Criminal online forums provide a market place for the trading of such services.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) protocols capable of launching powerful attacks against business critical systems are increasing in numbers. These tools, coupled with better understanding of the financial and reputational damage they can cause, are increasing the industry’s perception of DDOS as a significant threat.”

The NCA pointed out that there are no definitive figures for how much cyber crime is costing the UK and it references a 2011 UK Cyber Security Strategy which suggests that such figures will never be available.

What is clear though, according to the report, is that the costs associated with this type of crime are incredibly high and only likely to increase in the years to come. The agency itself says it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the cost to the UK is several billions of pounds per year.

Director of the NCA, Keith Bristow, said:

“To relentlessly disrupt serious and organised crime as effectively as possible we need to take informed decisions about how law enforcement coordinates and targets its resources. The National Strategic Assessment provides us with the baseline for doing that.

This assessment, which is the first one published by the NCA, is the most detailed and broad-ranging crime threat analysis ever produced by law enforcement.

Importantly, because of the way the NCA has been set up to lead and coordinate the UK response to serious and organised crime, this is also the first time that the shared threat assessment fits within a national framework, fundamentally connecting our strategic understanding of the threats with a UK-wide tactical response to them.

The assessment, and the response to it, is owned by the whole of law enforcement, including police forces and other national agencies, as well as Whitehall departments, local government, industry partners and the third sector.

It helps us maximise our collective impact in order to cut serious and organised crime.”

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