Cybercrime and small businesses

In its latest survey the UK’s Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has calculated that fraud and cybercrime is costing SMEs an average of around £800 per year, with 54% of SMEs polled reporting that they had been victims in the past 12 months.

Reported losses as a result of fraud ran between £500 and £5,000 and half (53 per cent) wanted to see a clear cyber-crime reporting structure.

Now a new review by the Criminal Law Reform Now Network (CLRNN) criticises the current Computer Misuse Act, which, it says needs to be updated.

It identifies problems with enforcement and legal obstructions that can see those cybersecurity professionals liable  to prosecution for carrying out intelligence research against cybercriminals and foreign state actors.

Simon McKay, a civil liberties and human rights barrister who was the project lead for the report, said: “One of our key recommendations is that a number of [legitimate] defences need to be built into the Computer Misuse Act to allow research, and integrity testing of systems.

The review also argues that there should be greater flexibility in the range of punishments for those caught hacking, so that penalties for young people, especially those with mental health issues face less severe sentences.

It also says that reports to the country’s Action Fraud lines are often not followed up because of a lack of adequate police resources.

It calls for an urgent update of the law to improve and make it fit for purpose.