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Minister: 1 in 5 crimes in Spain now committed online

MADRID (AP) — Spain's government on Wednesday pledged stronger action against cybercrime, saying it has come to account for about a fifth of all offenses registered in the country.

Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said police would be given additional staff, funding and resources to address online crime. He said reported cases of cybercrime were up 72% last year compared to 2019, and 352% compared to 2015.

“The ... decline in conventional crime and the increase in cybercrime has brought us to a turning point: today, one in every five crimes in Spain is committed online," he told a press conference in Madrid.

Almost 90% of cybercrimes reported last year involved online fraud schemes, Grande-Marlaska said. “This ... has a remarkable and negative impact on national interests, institutions, companies and citizens,” he added.

On Tuesday, Spain's defense minister approved the creation of a new military cyberoperations training school to further reinforce national security online.

Spain is among the countries that suffer the largest numbers of remote online attacks in the world, according to data from antivirus protection specialist ESET. Small businesses are particularly affected.

José Cano, Research Director at market intelligence firm IDC Spain, said a lack of talent and skills had left Spanish businesses exposed to the increasing sophistication of online criminals, who are innovating to bypass multi-factor authentication and other safeguards.

“Cyber-resilience is not only about enterprise value and reducing business risk, but also about national economic security,” Cano said. “European companies, especially Spanish companies, will increasingly incorporate cyber-resilience planning into their business and security strategies.”