Online fraud in the UK netted cyber criminals over £670 million last year, according to new research designed to coincide with Get Safe Online Week this week.
The annual Cabinet Office-backed awareness raising campaign commissioned the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to give netizens a flavor of how dangerous it is online.
It found that the top ten “internet-enabled frauds” incurred losses over £670m between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.
However, it’s pretty obvious that the figure is far higher than that given many online crimes go unreported.
A separate Get Safe Online poll revealed that over half (51%) of Britons have been a victim of either online fraud, ID theft, hacking or online abuse yet only a third said they reported the crime.
Part of the problem was that many (47%) didn’t know who to report the incident to, although with the creation of Action Fraud - the national fraud and online crime reporting center – this should change.
As more are affected by it, online crime is increasingly being viewed in a more serious light by the public. Some 53% said they now see it as serious as “physical world” crime.
This change in perception could even be helping improve attitudes to online crime.
Get Safe Online revealed that almost half of respondents (45%) have changed their passwords to more secure log-ins and 42% said they are more vigilant when they shop online.
However, basic security awareness is still a major problem, with more than half of mobiles (54%), a third of laptop owners (37%) and 67% of tablet owners claiming they don’t have a password or PIN to lock their device.
“Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’ and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished,” said Get Safe Online CEO Tony Neate.
“The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”
Chris Boyd, malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes, argued that the recent celebrity iCloud hacks may have done Get Safe Online a big favor in helping raise public awareness.
“There is a significant amount of apathy amongst the average person when it comes to protecting themselves online, which is compounded by the ever evolving complexity and success of cybercrime, so whilst education is important, it’s also difficult,” he added.
“You can report online criminal activity in the UK to Action Fraud, but getting that message to the average person on the street is difficult - and with increased visibility comes a rise in cost and resources. Unfortunately, it seems we can't have our cake and eat it."