Today the Office of National Statistics (ONS) published their annual Crime Survey for England and Wales. The figures officially a whopping 5.8 million incidents defined as cybercrime – which includes online fraud and hacking which have impacted 1 in 10 of us over the past year.
As we pointed out in a blog last October when the ONS published their estimated crime figures, crime is changing, and it’s no wonder that it is moving online because it’s where we are conducting more of our day to day transactions.
We have all embraced the convenience, ease and speed the online world provides but the figures published today are a warning shot that convenience, ease and speed can also lead to fraud, theft, hacking and other online crime and we are all vulnerable to it.
Because our five senses are of no use to us in the digital world crime is able to grow. Online we don’t know who we are dealing with. We can’t see the people behind the website and we can rarely speak on the phone. Even if the company we are entrusting our hard earned cash or personal information to is the real deal, we have no idea if hackers, fraudsters and criminals are lurking in the shadows. We base all our online engagements on trust and blind faith.
But blind faith rarely works and when it fails who is there to help us out? Right now if we are victim we can rely on assistance from the banks and sometimes the police, but as crime figures increase and as more of our lives are pushed online will that help be as forthcoming? Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe the Metropolitan Police Commissioner said in The Times (£) in March of this year that the current process of banks helping out customers who had suffered online fraud were being “rewarded for bad behaviour”. If that view takes hold, it is likely that if we can’t prove we did all we could to protect ourselves online help won’t be as readily available.
So as a guide to things you can do to change your ways and take the same precautions in the digital world as you do in the physical world, here are five basic tips to consider:
- Don’t make purchases on your mobile device using public WI-Fi. If you are going to buy online do it on a secure Wi-Fi network – public Wi-Fi is not secure and is a regular target for hackers.
- Don’t share sensitive or private information such as banking details, name, address, date of birth, national insurance number unless you know who you are sharing it with.
- Lock your devices and accounts with passcodes and passwords just as you lock your windows, front door, car or bike.
- Don’t respond to emails which look suspicious, are from people or companies you don’t know, or have attachments you don’t recognise.
- Install updates and patches whenever a company recommends it.
For more information on all of these tips and other ways to stay safe online check our Privacy Factsheets