UK makes top 10 in world index of cyber crime threats

Index could help shine light on difficult-to-trace activity, study author says

The rankings were based on data gathered by researchers who surveyed almost 100 cyber crime experts from around the world. Getty Images
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The UK has been placed eighth in global cyber crime hotspots in a new study ranking the most significant sources of cyber threats.

The World Cybercrime Index was published in journal Plos One after three years of research by academics from the University of Oxford and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra.

The index said Russia housed the greatest cyber crime threat, followed by Ukraine, China, the US and Nigeria.

The rankings were based on data gathered by researchers who surveyed almost 100 cyber crime experts from around the world, asking them to identify the most significant sources of five major types of cyber crime, ranking countries according to the impact, professionalism and technical skill of its criminals.

The study’s co-author, Miranda Bruce, said the research would enable cyber security agencies to focus on key hubs of cyber crime, directing funds and focus more effectively.

“The research that underpins the index will help remove the veil of anonymity around cyber criminal offenders, and we hope that it will aid the fight against the growing threat of profit-driven cyber crime,” she said.

“We now have a deeper understanding of the geography of cyber crime, and how different countries specialise in different types of cyber crime.

“By continuing to collect this data, we’ll be able to monitor the emergence of any new hotspots and it is possible early interventions could be made in at-risk countries before a serious cyber crime problem even develops.”

Co-author and associate professor Jonathan Lusthaus said the index could help shine a light on what is often difficult-to-trace activity.

“Due to the illicit and anonymous nature of their activities, cyber criminals cannot be easily accessed or reliably surveyed. They are actively hiding,” he said.

“If you try to use technical data to map their location, you will also fail, as cyber criminals bounce their attacks around internet infrastructure across the world.

“The best means we have to draw a picture of where these offenders are actually located is to survey those whose job it is to track these people.”

The researchers said they hope to expand the study to examine whether different national characteristics such as education rates, gross domestic product or levels of corruption affect the amount of cyber crime emerging from a country.

Updated: April 11, 2024, 2:48 AM