The COVID-19 pandemic has led to ever greater digitisation of the society: use of services, remote work, e-commerce, and financial transactions. Also, the number of possibilities for committing criminal offence in cyberspace have increased.

The scale of cybercrime threats is high and growing, with cyber incidents almost doubling in recent years and the number of people exposed to cybercrime increasing as indicates the audit “Is cybercrime combated effectively” carried out by the National Audit Office of Lithuania (NAOL).

 

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Over the last year, almost 1,300 criminal offences committed in the cyberspace were registered in Lithuania, the largest share of which was Internet fraud – 58 per cent, as well as data- and system security-related crime – 34 per cent, child pornography – 6 per cent, and copyright and xenophobic offences – 2 per cent. However, in 2019, compared to 2016, the number of criminal offences registered in the police decreased by 17 per cent. It does not reflect the actual trends of these threats and their growth.

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One of the reasons for this is that the police do not receive all information about possible criminal offences in cyberspace. The existing shortcomings in the management of cyber incidents lead to the fact that the police are not provided with all information about cyber incidents which are potentially criminal offences.

The audit carried out by the NAOL shows that public security in cyberspace needs to be increased. Preventive activities for cybercrime are carried out by police and eight other institutions under their established priorities. During the period of 2015-2019, the police bodies alone implemented approximately 1.5 thousand various preventive measures. However, the participating institutions do not coordinate preventive measures with each other, do not perform impact assessments of preventive activities, therefore, similar preventive measures are implemented that do not produce the necessary results. According to Eurobarometer survey, in 2019, compared to 2018, there was a 16 per cent increase in the population who believe that they are not capable of protecting themselves against cybercrime, and Lithuania ranked 26th in the EU according to this indicator (from 28 per cent to 44 per cent, respectively). Also, 42 per cent of the population are not well informed about the threats of crime in the cyberspace, and 80 per cent of them are not aware of official channels to report a cybercrime.

Moreover, the performance effectiveness of specialised cybercrime units is insufficient. According to the results of the audit, in 2019, compared to 2016, the number of cybercrime pre-trial investigations transferred to the court by specialised units decreased by 9 per cent, while in 2017–2019, 11 per cent of decisions checked by prosecutors to suspend, terminate or refuse to initiate cybercrime pre-trial investigations were repealed as unfounded. The effectiveness of these investigations is influenced by the insufficiently efficient management model of specialised units and the training of officials and prosecutors.

Audit report in Lithuanian is available at: https://www.vkontrole.lt/failas.aspx?id=4101.

Audit report summary in English is available at: https://www.vkontrole.lt/failas.aspx?id=4108.