Cyber blackmail in the UK

Police have been investigating a case of cyber blackmail here in the UK. It appears to be an isolated incident. Nevertheless, it highlights the growing trend we’ve been tracking during the last year.

Sadly, it looks as though Greater Manchester Police, the police force in question will not be pursuing the case further. Apparently, they consider this to be an Internet crime, so it doesn’t fall within their remit.

This raises the issue of who deals with cybercrime now that the National High Tech Crime Unit (NHCTU) no longer exists. The functions of the NHTCU, launched by the UK government in April 2001 to combat cybercrime, have been taken over by the newly created Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).

It’s to be hoped that SOCA is pursuing this case. However, the message on the old NHTCU website, instructing people to report such crimes to their local police force, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Moreover, SOCA’s stated priorities, as listed on its website don’t explicitly include cybercrime:

  • Drugs trafficking, primarily Class A – 40%
  • Organized immigration crime – 25%
  • Individual and private sector fraud – 10%
  • Other organized crime – 15%

It doesn’t seem like cybercrime will be a high priority for SOCA.

New crimeware, including ransomware, points to the fact that cybercrime is becoming increasingly organized. We really hope that the UK won’t lose focus, and that SOCA will put significant resources into investigating cybercrime.

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