Only a fraction of the estimated Â£640 million the UK government spends every year toward measures against cybercrime is channeled toward law enforcement, according to a cybercrime study commissioned by the UKâ€™s Ministry of Defence and carried out by a team of Cambridge University scholars, in cooperation with German, Dutch and American scientists.
A shift of focus from surveillance and preventative actions to actually putting cybercrooks behind bars may result in a better allotment of funds, lead study author Prof. Ross Anderson, said in a comment on the report findings for the BBC.
Anderson notes that the current state of facts may be due to authoritiesâ€™ misperception as to the proportions of the cybercrime phenomenon and to the number of people involved in this industry. He calls for a hands-on approach, similar to the US governmentâ€™s current anti-cybercrime policy.
â€œIn fact, a small number of gangs lie behind many incidents and locking them up would be far more effective than telling the public to fit and anti-phishing toolbar or purchase anti-virus software. Cybercrooks impose disproportionate costs on societyâ€, added Anderson.
According to the Cabinet Officeâ€™s reaction to the report, the current government approach is believed to â€œstrike the right balance between defending our interests and pursuing cybercriminalsâ€. However, plans to invest an extra Â£650 million in training cyber-specialists across the country in the next four years point to a preference for monitoring, surveillance and other proactive protection actions.