Get Safe Online Day 2016

18 Oct 2016 08:00 AM

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Today, people and small businesses based in Northumbria are today 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 £10.1 million1 was lost by the area as a result of fraud, including cybercrime, in 2015/16. Nationally, this figure rose to a staggering £10.9 billion over the same period which equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16 living in the UK2, but represents only reported fraud and cybercrime to Action Fraud.

However, a specially commissioned survey to mark Get Safe Online Day (18 October)3, reveals that the UK figure 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 UK4 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.

In the North East, 26% said that they had a limited understanding of the risks they face when going online, but 91% said they were somewhat or very concerned about their online safety and security. 87% also said they felt online crime was as damaging as physical crime.

Of those who said they had been a victim of cybercrime, 50% said they felt that the matter was too trivial to report. Worryingly, 51% also said that they felt there was nothing that could be done.

But, many people in the North East are still not taking the basic steps to keep themselves safe online with as many as 40% 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 – 34% have been contacted to do so – 6% said they did not follow the advice. The survey found that people use an average 9 passwords across devices and accounts.

Detective Inspector Angela Hufton of the Digital Policing Unit said: "Cyber crime is fastly becoming one of the biggest challenges facing police across the country but this action shows we have those responsible firmly in sight.

"It is also important to understand that online crime has no boundaries and offenders in this force area could be responsible for victims across the whole of the country and beyond.

"Their actions can have a devastating impact on their victims, many of which are among the most vulnerable groups in society, but I want to reassure the public that we are taking a number of positive steps to protect people from across the UK.

"Northumbria Police will continue to work with key partners on both a local and national scale to do all we can to protect members of the public from cyber criminals in the north east.

"Offenders are cowardly and may think that they are safe because they are sat behind a computer screen but our message to those people is simple - if you commit an offence online we will identify you, we will find you and we will arrest you."

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.”

“The fact that over a third of people felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online. Also, as our research shows, people are losing large sums of money on average - £523 being the equivalent of a holiday abroad or the price of a new piece of technology in the home. As a result, it seems there is still a big education job to do. Let’s not let cyber criminals get away with it anymore by ensuring that each and every one of us is updating the operating systems of our various devices and ensuring security software is always updated. What’s more we all need to ensure that we have a different password for each online account we own and website we visit. Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines.”

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.”