Professor David Walls, the chair of criminology at the University of Leeds, believes that the Internet has been facilitating fraud, yet many of these cases have been resolved.
Sputnik: New figures from the National Cyber Security Centre have revealed that over 658 cyber-attacks and over a million incidents of credit card fraud occurred last year in the UK. How significant is this story and, at a glance, what do these numbers tell us?
David Walls: It's significant because it shows that a lot is being done to resolve these problems and you wouldn't have got this figure a few years ago. The problem is that fraud has been going on for a long time and the Internet has been facilitating a lot of it, increasingly so - particularly as people have gone into using online banking software. So yes, they are pretty dismal on one hand; on the other hand, we know that these cases have happened and that many are being resolved.
Sputnik: These are some quite concerning numbers, particularly the findings relating to credit card fraud. Are individuals really doing enough to protect themselves and their data from fraudsters? What more could be done on an individual, but also a national level to keep this data safe?
David Walls: Things need to be done at a number of different levels and many things are being done at a number of different levels, but I suppose it starts with us as an individual being aware of various fraudulent situations, e.g. not accessing our banking software or using our banking accounts, for instance, when you've been given a sign which says the certificate is not valid. Most times people just say trust it and they will go ahead putting themselves at risk. I think that the public has to be more aware. I also think the banks could do a little bit more and they could also share a little bit more of the data as well, because I am not sure if the banks are sharing with all the different agencies the data that they need.
Sputnik: With talks of an early general election on the horizon, we’ve seen a lot of policy commitments on a range of subjects from health, police, and other issues; whereas we’ve not really seen any policy relating to these findings and cybersecurity as a whole. Are political parties taking these concerns seriously enough?
David Walls: I think they are. One of the problems is that it's multi-sectoral. The government has its own agenda, but also a lot of these responsibilities are with the private sector and it's often hard to join the two together - particularly when it goes from the financial sphere into the political sphere.
Sputnik: With things like Brexit coming into the public play, is there a fear that we could see these instances of credit card fraud actually rise?
David Walls: I think it's largely separated from Brexit. The big problem arises when there are fluctuations in the pound, but in terms of frauds? I don't think so. I do think we need more research, as an academic I've got to say that, but we need to do more research into what causes fraud. Some of the work we're doing we're identifying to the keystone crimes like people stealing data sets, data breaches, and then that data being used to profile victims, then those victims being sort of predated upon by fraudsters. If you knocked out the keystone crime, then you could solve a lot of the downstream effects and take the oxygen away from some of the fraudsters.
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