Action Fraud UK report that the UK public and small businesses are today being urged to start making every day safer as the latest online crime figures from Get Safe Online and Action Fraud 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.
In addition, a quarter of (25%) 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 cybercriminals
The research found a worrying gap in people’s understanding of what constitutes an online crime – 86% said they had not been targeted by cybercriminals in the past 12 months. But, 68% of people in the UK 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
Action Fraud UK add that, 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 8½ 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.