The UK public and small businesses are being urged to start making every day safer as the latest online crime figures from Get Safe Online
and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau
(NFIB) reveal that a staggering £10.9 billion was lost to the UK economy as a result of fraud, including cybercrime, in 2015/16.
That equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16 living in the UK - but represents only reported fraud and cybercrime to Action Fraud.
However, a specially commissioned survey to mark Get Safe Online Day (18 October), reveals that this number is likely to be much greater, with respondents who had been a victim of online crime alone losing an average of £523 each – this being more than the average weekly earnings figure for the UK which currently stands at £505.
In addition, 39% of people who said they’d been victims of online crime said they hadn’t reported the incident – this meaning that the overall amount of money lost by the UK could in fact be even more.
A quarter of the UK public said that they had a limited understanding of the risks they face when going online, but nine in 10 (89%) said they were somewhat or very concerned about their online safety and security. 89% also felt online crime was as damaging or more damaging than physical crime.
The victims of cyber criminals
The research found a worrying gap in people’s understanding of what constitutes an online crime – 86% said they had not been targeted by cyber criminals in the past 12 months. But, 68% of Brits have been targeted in a variety of ways:
53% received fraudulent emails or messages which have attempted to direct them to websites where their personal information could have been stolen, including bank details, user names and passwords
Over a quarter (28%) reported being contacted by someone who was trying to trick them into giving away personal information
10% had their email or social media accounts hacked
3% had been victims of ransomware, a fast-growing means of online extortion
Of those who said they had been a victim of cybercrime, over a third (38%) said they felt that the matter was too trivial to report. Worryingly, over a third of people (37%) also said that they felt there was nothing that could be done.
Poor online safety habits
But, many Britons are still not taking the basic steps to keep themselves safe online with as many as 43% saying that they use the same password for multiple online accounts.
In fact, even when a company warns people to change their password after a breach – three in 10 have been contacted to do so – 12% said they did not follow the advice. The survey found that people use an average 9 passwords across devices and accounts.
The research also showed that respondents only update their security software every eight-and-a-half months and two in 10 (19%) do not update their device operating systems at all.
When it comes to taking care of personal information, nearly a quarter (23%) said they never update their privacy settings on social media, with 58% saying they did not know how to. Additionally, nearly a third (29%) don’t back up their documents and photographs at all.
Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, comments: “The fact that the UK is losing nearly £11 billion to cyber criminals is frightening and highlights the need for each and every one of us to make sure we are taking our online safety seriously. It is clear from our survey that people are very concerned, and rightly so.”
City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greany, the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, continued:
“The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK. All of us need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals.
“Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online.”
BT Web Protect
BT Web Protect is a free security product available to all BT Broadband customers. It provides protection from viruses, phishing email and scams, by warning you if you are about to visit a dangerous website.
It doesn’t need to be installed, just activated.
Find out more about BT Web Protect >
BT Virus Protect
BT customers can download BT Virus Protect software. Powered by McAfee security, it provides anti-virus and anti-spyware protection multiple PCs or Macs.
It comes with either 2 or 15 licences, this means you can install it on up to 2 or 15 computers or laptops.
To check which version you get, go to www.bt.com/mybt
If you get two licences but want more, you can buy 15-licence BT Virus Protect for just £4 a month with the first month absolutely free.
Find out more about BT Virus Protect here >