Aid requests to APAV’s Safe Internet Line increased 575.49% in 2020

APAV requests for help to the Internet Safe Line, to support victims of cybercrime and reporting illegal content, increased 575.49% between 2019 and 2020, with a peak in calls in March. last year.

According to data released today, the Internet Safe Line received 587 phone calls from cybercrime victims between January and December 2020, while between January and December 2019 102 contacts were received, an increase of 575.49% compared to APAV reflects “this time of pandemic”.

“In our opinion, it is due to the fact that not only do people spend more time online, because often circumstances dictate it, either through the telescope or telework, as people who were not online before and were not so aware of issues related to cybersecurity, which made them the target of some type of computer security incident ”, explained the responsible for the Internet Safe Line, Ricardo Estrela.

Among the 1,164 contacts – including requests for help and complaints of illegal content – received by the Internet Line in the twelve months of 2020, there was a peak in calls in March, when the line received 154 calls, against the 83 received in January and 119 in February.

Among the crimes, or other forms of violence, most reported, the threat stands out, with 172 cases, which represents 29.3% of the 587 calls, with situations of defamation or insult (45), bullying (10), debauchery privacy (18), illegal recording and photos (31) or ‘sextortion’ (34), a term that joins the words ‘sex’ (sex) and ‘extortion’ (extortion) and which happens when someone threatens to release personal content and requires sexual favors or the payment of money for not doing so.

“In threats, we are talking mainly about threats via social networks and the most common threat is the dissemination of intimate images or videos, which ends up not falling into the category of ‘sextortion’ because there is no underlying monetary contribution”, explained Ricardo Estrela .

According to the official, these are situations that normally happen in the context of intimate relationships, whether dating relationships that have some duration in time, or sporadic relationships, through online platforms “in which people were enticed to share some type of image. and then they are blackmailed or threatened who, if they do not send or do anything, suffer reprisals ”.

Ricardo Estrela said that over the last year it was possible to detect some changes in the way of acting in relation to a certain type of crime, namely in the case of threats, ‘sextortion’, wanton privacy or illegal recordings or photographs.

“What we noticed during the year 2020 is that it has become a phenomenon with an increasing increase in the number of cases, mainly, but not only, of Portuguese women who started to be exposed in private groups, either on chat platforms ‘, even on file sharing platforms ”, he pointed out, adding that in 2019“ it didn’t happen ”.

It also revealed that there have also been “many threats via social network or via instant messaging platforms (sms, whatsapp), where there are also many threats of harm to physical integrity and even death threats”, a phenomenon “associated with the increase in complaints of hate speech ”.

With regard to contacts made to report illegal content available on the Internet, namely child pornography or that condone violence or racism, the line received 720 telephone contacts, among 544 specifically because of content with sexual abuse by minors and others 216 related to hate speech.

In this matter, it was possible to categorize 1,773 images and, in five cases, to report sexual abuse content of minors housed in Portugal.

Ricardo Estrela admitted that “cybercrime is a very vast world”, but left two pieces of advice, namely “be careful with all kinds of information” that is shared on the internet, stressing that the digital footprint is “very strong” and that it is difficult to you can delete something after it is shared, and ensure that all equipment is secure, right from the creation and safeguarding of passwords.


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