U.K. Fears Criminals Are Winning the 'Cyber Arms Race'

Students attend cyber defense class in a school in Poltsamaa, Estonia, on December 4. British authorities fear cyber criminals are outpacing developments to stop them. Ints Kalnins/Reuters

The U.K.'s National Crime Agency (NCA) warns that online crime groups are beating companies and law enforcement agencies in the "cyber arms race," the BBC reports.

The agency tracked 2.46 million "cyber incidents" last year, including 700,000 cases of fraud, with the offenders coming from a concentrated pool of only "a few hundred" criminals.

According to the NCA's annual assessment, criminal groups are advancing their technical capabilities faster than authorities and companies can put up defenses.

International gangs are becoming a major threat to U.K. cyberspace, as some could potentially operate from larger centres with translators, who "target UK businesses to commit highly profitable malware-facilitated fraud."

" This 'cyber arms race' is likely to be an enduring challenge, and an effective response requires collaborative action from government, law enforcement, industry regulators and, critically, business leaders," the report said.

"These cyber-attacks include attacks directly targeting business systems and attacks against individuals," it added.

The NCA also said that cybercrime is seriously underreported and urged businesses to notify police if they have fallen victim to it.