Cybercrime and fraud have taken the UK by storm and now cost the country billions of pounds a year, according to new research.
The prevention group Get Safe Online has revealed that the UK economy has lost a total of £10.9 billion over the course of the last 12 months as a result of cybercrime and online fraud. As cyber-attackers have continued to employ ransomware in their attacks, more ordinary citizens have begun to fall victim to their attacks.
The group noted that fraudulent emails and messages are to blame for leading potential victims to websites that collect their personal information. Armed with this sensitive information, attackers are able to steal the identities of users which can lead to identity theft and a host of other problems.
Get Safe Online is insisting that internet users utilise a variety of strong passwords that vary from website to website as recycled passwords are often how hackers are able to gain access to a number of accounts from a single hack or leak. The group is also reminding users to ensure that the latest security updates have been installed on their computers and mobile devices.
The chief executive of Get Safe Online, Tony Neate, stressed how seriously we need to take our personal security online, saying: “Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines.”
The group also recommended that users re-evaluate their presence on social media. In order to protect one's social media account it is highly advised that security settings that prevent posts from being public are checked so that only trusted friends can view one's posts and personal information. Users should also back up their documents and photos to either hard drives, cloud storage or both in case they fall victim to a ransomware attack. If all of your media and important documents are backed up elsewhere, a device that has been locked as the result of a ransomware attack can be wiped and its contents can then later be restored without having to pay an absorbent amount to re-gain access to one's files.
As ransomware and other malicious attacks have gained popularity recently, it is essential that ordinary citizens begin to take the same steps that businesses do to protect themselves online.
Nick Brown, managing director at GBG, commented: “It’s clear fraud is a booming business, and as those with malicious intent hone their skills to increasingly take advantage of the innocent, businesses and individuals need to consider how they can stay one step ahead to protect their valuable identity, data and IP. It’s sadly got to a point that you have to assume your identity, at some point, will be compromised. Even the unassuming store card can be a target for fraudulent activity; they are linked to an individual’s name and address, and while this may seem innocuous on the surface, fraudsters can use this data – your identity – to set up other accounts to do with as they please.
"In the first instance, a fraudster will use the actual identity of an individual and thereafter, they will create synthetic identities compiled from elements of the data stolen from an individual. The butterfly effect - the implications that impact an individual long after the fraudulent activity has occurred or is discovered – can be catastrophic.
"Vigilance, therefore, is needed in order to prevent loss of personal data, or one’s identity."
Image Credit: Kim Britten / Shutterstock