COMMENT: Hidden threat of cybercrime under the radar – but no longer

Cybercrime
Cybercrime
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The humble bobby on the beat is the traditional symbol of security.

Residents rightly worry about reports of assaults, drug use and car crime on our streets. They bemoan brutal budget cuts which ensure those bobbies are seldom seen on routine patrols.

Last month councillors in one area lamented the loss of dedicated police community support officers for specific parishes.

The concerns are legitimate, yet an equally worrying wave of hidden crime is growing at a rapid rate under the radar.

A four-month investigation by the Johnston Press Investigations Unit has blown wide open the shady world of cybercrime.

Its startling findings show why the spotlight must be shined upon the issue.

Criminals might be trying to swipe your wallet, or meeting mates to deal drugs on street corners. But they are also anonymously accessing narcotics, guns and more from the murkiest depths of the web.

Unbeknown to more than 250,000 Sussex residents, approximately one in six, cyber criminals are freely trading their personal data online.

Yet prior to the cyber attack which rocked NHS trusts up and down the country earlier this year, cybercrime did not seem to get the attention it warranted.

That is why JP Investigations sought to lift the lid on the topic and expose the extent of the county’s troubles.

Since the team, which includes Sussex specialist reporter Oli Poole, began its investigation, cybercrime has begun grabbing national headlines.

Our health authorities, Parliament and big businesses were all victims to often global attacks since work began.

Our investigation, featuring online, in this week’s newspaper and next week’s edition, shows how Sussex has been hit by cyber criminals.

It will also help ensure you minimise the risk of falling victim, with experts offering plenty of tips to stay safe online.

We hope next time questions are raised over whether Sussex Police have the tools to do its job, scrutiny is also given to how prepared they are to tackle the hidden threat to us all.