Cyber and online crime
For advice on helping to keep yourself safe online, use our A-Z of crime prevention here.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is a term for many forms of crimes which can either take place either online or where technology is the method or the intended target.
Cyber-dependent crimes or ‘pure’ cyber-crimes are offences that can only be committed using a computer, computer networks or other forms of information communications technology (ICT).
- the illicit intrusion and hacking into networks
- the disruption of computer functionality with the spread of viruses or other malware
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Cyber-enabled crimes on the other hand, are traditional crimes, which can be increased in their scale or reach by use of computers, computer networks or other forms of ICT.
Main forms of cyber-enabled crimes would be:
- child sexual exploitation
Anyone can be a victim of cybercrime and it is important that it is reported. However criminals can act not only nationally but globally across county and international borders. Therefore to avoid both duplication of investigations and to get a true picture of the scale of an offence a single national agency was formed to investigate them.
In most cases Online or Cyber-crime is financially based and is intended to prompt victims to release funds. Many of these will involve fraud and if you have been a victim you should report these to the National Police Agency Action Fraud who will investigate.
There are two ways to report to Action Fraud via E-mail at www.actionfraud.police.uk or over the phone Call: 0300 123 2040.
Any purely local offences with no cross border investigations will be passed to the regional constabulary to progress. You will be advised if this happens and be contacted by a local officer. More intricate cases they will retain and update you.
If however you are a victim of another form of Cyber or Online facilitated crime then you can phone on 101.
The Internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn't drive without wearing your seat belt or go abroad without seeking medical advice for immunisations you shouldn't venture online without taking some basic precautions.
Passwords: Make your passwords unique and do not use them for different accounts to limit any security breaches. If you must write them down keep them locked in a safe or other secure location away from your computer. A strong password is at least 12 characters long and ideally will include both upper and lower case letters, a least 1 number and also another character such as a question mark or exclamation mark. Use something memorable for you such as a film title or song lyric for example “Star Wars 2: The Empire Strike Back” which incorporates upper case, lower case, a number and another character. If possible use other security methods such as Security keys, second tier security questions, Biometrics or One-time codes some or all of which are available on many accounts.
Be Wary: Even if you know the source of an E-mail, tweet, online post or advertisement it could be infected. If something looks suspicious, delete it. Links in an email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information.
Plug-Ins: Memory cards, USB’s, Flash Drives and any other external devices that you connect to could be infected. Always use your security software to scan them before you use them.
Keep your security software up-to-date: There are a number of commercial security protection packages available but it is important to ensure they are kept current as new computer viruses; malware and other online threats are constantly developed and released. Keeping your web browser, operating system and security software up-to-date is the best defence against them. Many of these can be set to update automatically.
Protect ALL your online devices: Computers are not the only devices that can be infected and you should consider protection for smartphones, gaming systems and any other device or smart appliance that is Web enabled.
Prepare: Back-Up and keep secure copies of any work or other information such as photos, invoices etc. so that should you be unfortunate enough to be infected you can wipe your system and restore your data from an uninfected copy.
Advice for Parents and Carers
Children and young people online
Cyberbullying: How can the police help you?
You can find further advice on the Internet Matters webpage here.
Play Like Share - ThinkuKnow resource for eight-to-ten year olds
This three-episode animated series and accompanying resource pack aims to help eight-to-ten year olds learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, exploitation and other risks they might encounter online such as sharing content.
Download Play Like Share films and resource pack here
Supporting 6-10 year olds
Give your child a guiding hand as they start their digital journey online with practical tips to help them build up their understanding of the online world and create a safe space for them to explore.
Supporting 11-13 year olds
Help your child adjust to the new challenges they may face at this age such as getting their own smartphone or joining a social network for the first time. See the guide for essential things you can do to support them.
Supporting 14+ year olds
As they continue to form their online identity and consume more and more online, see tips on how you can stay on top of what they are doing and show support when they need it most.
What kind of parent are you?
Get an understanding of how you parent to improve the way your child adapts and forms their view of the online world. Take a look at the guide for tips from Dr Linda.