A government report on serious criminal threats to the UK has warned of the growing danger from international gangs of online and credit card fraudsters.
The UK Threat Assessment of Serious Organised Crime pinpoints a surge in attempts to hijack bank accounts using email phishing and key-logging malware.
The report by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) says groups of criminals worldwide are collaborating over the web, specialising in roles from spamming to trading stolen personal data.
It says the criminal market for stolen data has boomed with the growth of the internet, with information stolen through phishing, hacking or malware traded in large quantities online.
It also warns of bank accounts being taken over by fraudsters tricking call centre workers, a 37 percent rise in the cost of phone, internet and mail-order fraud and the threat from chip and PIN devices being modified to capture card details.
Spam emails are often used in phishing attacks or to deliver malware, the report says, distributed by networks of compromised botnet computers which are also used for denial-of-service attacks.
Soca also warn that half of the UK's £1.3bn intellectual property crime is related to digital media.
The internet is also highlighted as a source of illegal goods such as controlled drugs, illegal firearms and false documents.
The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Metropolitan Police Service are waiting to see if the Home Office will grant £1.3m in start-up costs for their proposed Policing Central E-crime Unit, which would co-ordinate cybercrime investigations by local forces nationwide.