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The future of crime

26 September 2016 Jonathan Faurie

We lock our doors at night and put alarm systems on our cars in an effort to protect our assets from criminal activity. While this was sufficient in the past, we need to ask what we are doing to protect our information from a new breed of criminal, one which is not seen.

Cyber crime has become a major issue globally. It is been reported that behind Russia and China, South Africa had the largest number of cyber-crime victims worldwide in 2015. Further – depending on which sources you believe – it is estimated that South Africa loses between R2 billion and R5 billion a year to cyber-crime alone.

The seriousness of the problem

Just how serious is the cyber-crime problem in South Africa? According to the Hawks, it is very serious.

Speaking at the recently held Cyber-Crime Conference, Captain Dudu Simelane – Cyber/Fraud and Anti-Corruption Investigator at the Hawks – said that we need to remain vigilant in the face of attacks. Most of these attacks come from what the Hawks refer to as High Technology Crimes.

“With High Technology Crime, we are referring to many diverse criminal activities such as hacking, digital child pornography, intellectual property theft, online gambling and online fraud. This has created jurisdictional problems; in some cases it is now very difficult to determine who has the authority to investigate these crimes,” said Captain Simelane.

She added that gaining a better understanding of the problem and the need to develop a strong response is very important. Working together as stakeholders is crucial since investigators are still not well equipped with resources and knowledge of how to adequately deal with these crimes.

The pressure on law enforcement

The escalating cases of these crimes are presenting a problem for law enforcement personnel because of the need for training and equipment. The national cyber or electronic crime unit based in Pretoria is the only office doing this kind of investigation for the whole country.

According to Simelane, some police stations do not even know that there is such a unit within the Hawks, so these cases do not get the necessary attention and are not handled properly.

A culture of crime

The National Police Commissioner recently released the 2015 crime statistics which showed that there were 69 917 cases of commercial crime committed in 2015. The majority of this is fraud which is committed by organised crime syndicates who are highly educated and very resourceful.

“Organised criminal organizations operate at both the micro and macro economic levels. Most financial crimes are more organised because, usually they operate as formal organizations recruiting staff members from inside companies and organizations,” said Captain Simelane.

She added that these examples make it clear that financial investigations can be a successful investigation method.

Digging deeper

Now that we are aware of the nature of the threat and the organised nature of the companies that carry out these attacks, we need to know which are the sectors that are most affected by this type of crime.

Also speaking at the cyber crime conference, Elsa Jordaan, a Director at legal firm Norton Rose Fulbright, reported that according to the NetDiligence 2015 Cyber Claims Study, the majority of claims affected smaller organisations. Sectors that were the hardest hit include healthcare, financial and retail.

Hackers most frequent cause of loss accounting for 31% of claims. Malware and viruses came in second at 14% of claims while staff mistakes and rogue employees tied at third with 11% of claims.

According to the NetDiligence 2015 Cyber Claims Study, the average amount of records lost in the industry as a result of cyber-crime during the period of 2012 to 2015 is 3,2 million records. The average cost per record lost amounted to $964,31.

Are we pushing back?

We are all aware of the threat of cyber crime and have come in contact with it, either as a victim or as a person receiving a suspicious email or text, at some point. The question is, are we sitting back waiting to be another statistic? Is there work being done, no matter how difficult it is, to bring criminals to book?

Michael Salant, Head of Legal at Southern Cross Risk Management, reported at the conference that through international cooperation, 244 cases have been finalised which have resulted in 232 convictions. This is a conviction rate of 95.1% against a 74% target, which is a 16% improvement from previous years. This has all been achieved due to a special focus placed on the skills development of prosecutors.

Editor’s Thoughts:
It remains our responsibility, yours and your client’s, to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious cases of cyber activity. Through silence, we become victims. Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts jonathan@fanews.co.za.

Comments

Added by Louis Schlebusch, 26 Sep 2016
I think a lot more must be done by SAPS or the the Hawks or whoever is trying to do something about this specific type of crime to inform us as to where one could report incidents of this nature
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