The crime rate in England and Wales has risen by 40% following the inclusion of cyber offences in national statistics published today.
The startling figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics reveal that the inclusion of cybercrime, including bank and building society fraud, could add as many as 3.8m incidents to the headline crime survey estimate.
The last published results of the quarterly crime survey estimated that there were 6.8m offences experienced by victims in England and Wales in the 12 months to March this year.
There are some particularly horrendous stories behind the statistics. One home buyer lost £70,000 when she read a second email, allegedly from her solicitors, that asked her to deposit monies into a bank account set up by fraudsters. She hadn't noticed the slight difference, just one letter, in the email address allegedly from her 'solicitors.'
Cyber fraud within professional services is on the increase. Law firms, accountants and estate agents must take important steps to safeguard electronic transaction processes and to inform their customers how these should work. Without using secure email, it is easy for fraudsters to intercept emails and change your bank account details. When people's life savings or money from property are at risk, professional services companies have a duty of care to ensure that a money transaction arrives in the correct bank account.
It goes without saying that if this does not happen, everyone loses... apart from the fraudsters.
Remember that, however secure your own business systems and networks are, you don't have any control over those of your customers. One reason why many people do not do Internet banking is because of poor network security between the customer's own computer and the online banking portal.
Unless you and your customer are both using secure encrypted email, you should consider adopting a clear policy which stops senior management or staff from revealing your business banking details in an email. Find other alternative methods that don't compromise yours or your customer's online safety. When you offer a professional service to your customers or clients, you have to build trust, often done face to face or through voice recognition.
You owe a duty of care to your customers. After all, they have instructed you to do work on their behalf and they'll probably have little or no idea about your working practices. Tell them!