The UK's National Crime Agency has produced a report into the current and emerging cyber threats that businesses and organisations can expect to face.
The National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2014 report says that the internet and technology systems are increasingly being used by bad actors, for a variety of criminal reasons. Expected threats include terrorism, hacking, abuse, theft and the sale of illicit goods, and the NCA said that the study would help it to better react.
National Crime Agency director general Keith Bristow said: "To relentlessly disrupt serious and organised crime as effectively as possible, we need to take informed decisions about how law enforcement co-ordinates and targets its resources. This assessment is the most detailed and broad-ranging crime threat analysis ever produced by law enforcement.
"The assessment, and the response to it, is owned by the whole of law enforcement, including police forces and other national agencies, as well as Whitehall departments, local government, industry partners and the third sector. It helps us maximise our collective impact in order to cut serious and organised crime."
One of the key themes of the coming year is an increase in the use of denial-of-service attacks, and technology ransom demands. The UK's networked systems are said to be at particular risk and this economic crime is expected to continue over the next three years.
Currently, says the NCA, organised crime accounts for economic losses of around £24bn per year. Cybercrime has increased over the past two decades and represents increasing threats.
The report says: "Over the last two decades, the internet and digital communications technology have steadily increased their penetration into all sectors of UK society and business. More and more government and public services are going online and it is likely that attempted cyber attacks against government services will increase.
"In much the same way as criminals – including serious and organised criminals – have in the offline world, they identify and exploit any advantage they can to perpetrate their crimes."
However, the area remains something of a mystery, according to the report, and it is unknown how much new and old crime is happening on networks and how sophisticated it is.
"Awareness of how far cyber-enabled crime has permeated into local and regional serious and organised criminal groups is currently uneven," it added. "Criminals chase higher returns and seek to exploit less mature security measures, which makes cyber the leading channel for committing multiple types of economic crime."
The NCA said that a handful of cybercrime risks would have the most impact over the three-year period, and said that the threat of data hauls, denial of service attacks and network disruption were all likely to increase.
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