The great cyber surrender: how police and governments abandon cybercrime victims

Internet governance Identity theft Scams Cyber-crime Internet Law enforcement United States of America United Kingdom

As our reliance on the internet to work, shop, bank and socialise increases, networks of international cybercriminals lie in wait to exploit any and every opportunity to steal, scam and deceive. Those of us yet to fall victim take comfort in the idea that our governments and law enforcers are equally tireless in responding to this threat. Those less fortunate have found the opposite to be true.

In this, the most comprehensive transatlantic study of its kind, the authors find that the approach of both police and policymakers to tackling cybercrime is so inadequate that it is tantamount to surrender. On both sides of the Atlantic, there seems to be no systematic attempt to combat cyber fraud at scale. The authors also find millions of victims left to deal with feelings of powerlessness, violation and shame alone, with their quest for justice largely abandoned by forces without the skills or networks to hunt down perpetrators. In the battle to keep online spaces safe from cybercrime, we are not just losing. We have lost.

Key findings:

  • One in three Americans and one in five Britons have been victims of cybercrime.
  • Understanding the true scale of the problem is particularly difficult, due to underreporting.
  • Law enforcement and victim support regarding cybercrime are woefully inadequate in both the UK and the US.
  • Top-level law enforcement does have some capability to tackle complex cybercrime, but lacks the capacity (or resources) to do so at scale.
  • People are aware that there are dangers in principle, but are not protecting themselves in practice.
  • This appears to be due to a combination of complacency, fatalism, and a lack of knowhow.
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