The number of online crime reports fell by 28 per cent in 2022. In total, the police registered 13,949 cases of cybercrime last year. However, the figures do not tell the whole story: the damage and impact are still as great as ever. That is why the police continue to focus on prevention, disruption and investigation.
This is what the police write in a weblog.
Cybercrime versus digitized crime
The police distinguish between cybercrime and digitized crime. Information and communication technology is both the means and target of cybercrime. Then it would help if you considered installing ransomware, carrying out a DDoS attack or hacking a company network. In digitized crime, crooks use a computer or smartphone to commit crimes, such as help desk fraud or WhatsApp fraud.
The last variant fell by about 20,000 declarations last year. The number of reports of cybercrime decreased by 2 per cent to 13,949. In 2021, 14,166 victims of cybercrime were reported.
Theo van der Plas, program director for Digitization and Cybercrime at the police, says that fewer people are victims of digitized crime. According to him, this is due to targeted information by the police. The fact that the Public Prosecution Service demands higher sentences and the judge imposes them is also to blame. Van der Plas warns that crimes such as bank help desk fraud and boiler room fraud involving fraudulent investments claim thousands of victims. “Digital crime is and unfortunately remains of this time,” he says.
Number of declarations worryingly high.’
The program director finds the declining number of declarations encouraging but emphasizes that the figures are still “worryingly high”. Moreover, they only tell part of the story. “More and more companies, municipalities, and public institutions are falling victim to ransomware. Huge sums of money are demanded. And sometimes also paid, although we, as the police, advise against this. We do not immediately see this worrying trend reflected in the figures because, unfortunately, not all cases are reported. For example, to prevent image damage. But the impact is huge.”
The Ransomware Taskforce focuses on combating cybercrime. In addition to the police, private companies, government agencies and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) also participate in this task force. “Together, we look at how we can frustrate the business model of this criminal chain. For example, by disrupting their communication options. We do this in an international context because the perpetrators work all over the world,” says Van der Plas.
Information also plays a prominent role in the fight against hackers and cybercriminals. Together with bodies such as the Digital Trust Center (DTC), the police provide information and awareness campaigns to companies about the security of their ICT infrastructure. Van der Plas: “In this way, we increase digital resilience.”
The police specifically focus on young people because cybercrime and digitized crime are relatively accessible forms of crime. By intervening early, the police try to prevent young people at risk from slipping into the criminal environment.
For this purpose, a police team consisting of several areas of expertise has been put together: the Cyber Offender Prevention Squad (COPS). “We investigate which factors play a role in committing cybercrime and devise interventions with which we can prevent or break cybercriminal careers,” says Floor Jansen, team leader of the High Tech Crime Team.
She founded COPS two and a half years ago. Since then, the police team has taken various initiatives. Then you should think of the development of the HackShield game to point out the risks and consequences of cybercrime to young people, workshops for vulnerable young people and their parents, holding stop talks with first offenders and the roll-out of Hack_Right. This is a program set up by the police to prevent the recidivism of young, convicted cybercriminals and to help them use their talents and ICT knowledge for good.
With this approach, the Dutch police are leading the way in the field of offender prevention. “We have established an international i-cop network and exchange knowledge with Europol, and we also work together with other police departments and private parties. From the police, we are working across the board to prevent, disrupt and detect cybercrime,” says Jansen.
Considerable growth among young people
Earlier this week, the annual figures of the police showed that the number of reports of cybercrime has almost tripled in the past year compared to 2019. That year, the police received 4,715 reports of online scams and fraud; this year, the number of reports came to almost 14,000. The growth among young people was significant. “The knowledge to commit online crimes is widely shared, and it is easy to do from home,” said René Middag, an operational specialist at the National Unit, to the AD.