The Metropolitan Police’s Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has saved the UK £1.01 billion over the last two and a half years, according to a report.
According to the Met Police’s fourth and final Financial Harm Reduction & Performance Report, the figure is the amount of money that the unit has prevented the UK from losing through cyber crime, thanks to successful operations such as the one that recently prevented Barclays bank losing £1.3 million after a cyber gang took control of a branch computer using a remote control switch.
Today’s report reveals that the unit has beaten its target of delivering £504 million of harm reduction within four years, since it took the lead on tackling serious cyber crime in April 2011. It is a saving of £58 to every pound of funding invested in PCeU-led operations, it said.
Commander Steve Rodhouse, head of Gangs and Organised Crime in the Met, said: "The PCeU has exceeded all expectations in respect of making the UK's cyber space more secure. This is due to its innovative partnership work with industry and law enforcement across the globe and its dynamic system for developing intelligence, enforcing the law and quickly putting protection measures in place."
The report revealed that the unit has charged 126 suspects, securing the conviction of 89 cyber criminals, with a further 30 people awaiting trial.
Furthermore, 61 criminals have been sentenced to prison for a total of 184 years - an average of three years in jail per offender.
It has also disrupted 26 national and international cyber-based organised crime groups.
Meanwhile, detective superintendent Terry Wilson, from the PCeU, stressed that significant non-financial benefits have also been achieved by the unit.
“Harm is not always financial - immeasurable levels of emotional and reputational harm is also suffered by those who have their personal details hacked and published. In some cases, the release of personal information has potentially put lives at risk, so our achievements have also been significant in ensuring public safety,” said Wilson.
He added that the creation of three regional hubs across the UK has strengthened the national response to cyber crime.
Cybercrime was identified as a ‘tier one’ threat in the government's National Security Risk Assessment, published in October 2010. This is the same category assigned to international terrorism, an international military crisis, and a major accident or natural hazard requiring a national response.
The Cabinet Office allocated funding in April 2011 for the PCeU to take the national lead on investigating cyber crime such as computer intrusion, distribution of malicious malware, denial of service attacks and internet enabled fraud, and to support the mainstreaming of cyber skills in wider policing.