Central hub for the reporting of cyber crime will drill down into the issues of IP theft

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Given the recommendation from the Office of Cyber Security (OCS) following the first government-backed study into cyber crime, claiming that cyber crime costs the British economy approximately £27 billion a year, I welcome the proposal to set up a central hub for UK firms to report cyber fraud to.

I recognise that the OCS’ assessments are based on assumption rather than solid research, however, I cannot ignore their estimations and I certainly welcome the creation of an unbiased, central hub for reporting fraud. Considering the cost of IP theft by industry sector, which runs at some £1.6bn for software and computer services, the hub should be managed so that industry can engage and readily deal with the issue.

The report highlights that Intellectual Property (IP) theft has the greatest economic impact of any type of cyber crime, about £9.2 billion a year, with the hardest hit industries as pharmaceutical, biotechnology, electronic, chemical and IT sectors.

There needs to be a number of ongoing debates to examine and secure a handle on these issues and if necessary improve legal as well as technological tools to reduce these figures over the short, medium and long term. I welcome OCS’ recommendation in taking a stance towards creating a safer environment for UK businesses, which could be hugely valuable to the UK economy both for businesses and its employees.

In working side by side with companies, this initiative has the potential to really drill down in to the issues of IP theft and achieve a greater insight in to the true state of UK cyber crime.

The reported numbers are staggering claiming that the average UK business is losing £10,000 a year thanks to cyber espionage, extortion and other forms of online fraud. Putting the total loss to the UK economy at £27bn a year with British businesses accounting for £21bn of this loss.

If the true extent of cyber crime in the UK public sector is anywhere near this number then as a country, we have a lot of work to do. With severe cuts being made across the public sector and our services, tackling cyber crime must remain a crucial strategy for the UK government.

Building awareness of the issues surrounding cyber crime is vital in reducing cyber crime and the damaging effects it is having on the UK economy. All stakeholders need to come together whether they are rights holders, anti-piracy bodies, government agencies or businesses themselves.

I believe that all interested parties have a duty to educate the wider public, not only on the individual issues they work with but the wider problem of cyber crime and fraud. This is why we all need to come together to support this new hub and start taking control over the escalating levels of cyber crime that we are seeing here.

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Educated at The University of Kent and The College of Law, Julian Heathcote Hobbins is The Federation's General Counsel. Prior to joining FAST in July 2001, Julian qualified as a solicitor and has experience in intellectual property law including working at City law firm Theodore Goddard (now Addleshaw Goddard) on Anti Copying In Design (ACID) matters. Julian has a particular interest in the legislation relating to software, e-mail and Internet law (including Open Source and data leakage) with recent focus centered around Representative Rights under Article 4 of the Enforcement Directive and preparing numerous responses to Government on relevant consultations, for example, under the seminal Gowers Review of Intellectual Property.