Security

Nearly everyone in UK has been hacked, 'lottery' determines investigation, police lead says

Chief Constable Peter Goodman told a media briefing that he believed almost every person in the UK had been a victim of a data breach and had their personal data sold on the dark web.

If you live in the UK, you've probably been hacked, and your personal data has already been sold on the dark web, according to UK Chief Constable Peter Goodman.

Goodman, who is the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for cybercrime, spoke at a media briefing on the government's response to hacks and data breaches. He said that cybercrime is the "fastest-growing, most complex, difficult form of volume crime we've ever seen."

The remarks came as Goodman urged companies that had experienced a breach to be transparent in disclosing the nature of the hack. Goodman also said that he, personally, had been hacked three separate times, leading to his name, date of birth, address, and email being stolen.

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Addressing attendees at the briefing, Goodman said, "I can almost guarantee that every single one of you around this table has had a data breach against you and that some of your personal data is held somewhere on the dark web and is being sold, traded—are you happy with that? And you probably don't know about it."

The biggest issue is that no one is typically informed when a breach occurs, Goodman said. There are websites where one can go to search for information on whether or not they've been hacked, but if they don't do the research themselves, they may never have the answers.

Despite the widespread nature of the attacks, police response has been slow. According to Goodman, police investigations have been a "patchwork quilt, it's a postcode lottery for victims."

As far as who is perpetuating these crimes, Goodman noted that the UK had some Russian actors in custody. Russian-speaking countries are blurring the lines between state-sponsored attacks and criminal ones, according to Oliver Gower, head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, who also spoke at the briefing.

Gower said that Russian-speaking nations were the no. 1 threat for cybercrime in the UK. He also explained how profitable cybercrime has become, and described new threats brought about by the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices, calling on manufacturers to implement more safeguards to protect consumers.

Additionally, Gower warned that major widespread attacks against the UK would likely continue.

"WannaCry is not going to be the last attack to hit the UK, and things are likely to get worse before they get better," Gower said. "State actors have tried and will try again to target the UK."

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Almost everyone in the UK has been hacked and had their personal data sold on the dark web, according to Chief Constable Peter Goodman.
  2. Goodman said that he, himself, had also been hacked three times, but that police response to these crimes was a "postcode lottery for victims" when it comes to investigations.
  3. Oliver Gower, head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, warned that state actors from Russian-speaking countries were the no. 1 cyberthreat to the UK.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/Allexxandar

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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