Staying safe online

David Varney

The hacking of Talk Talk account holders was a reminder to all of us to take measures to keep our data out of the hands of fraudsters. PaDP Security Adviser Dave Varney offers some pointers.

Beware of scams
Criminals have been using various forms of ‘scams’ for years. ‘Scams’ are a form of deception or trickery that are used to gain a dishonest advantage, which is often financial, over another person. By extracting personal data about you, obtain money from you by deception or other fraudulent means is made far easier.

Many of us would have received emails in the past, purporting to represent a bank or organisation asking for money or personal details as well as ‘those’ letters sent to inform you of an amazing amount of money that you have waiting for you and asking you to send a ‘small’ administration fee to arrange the transfer of the money.

This type of scam has developed considerably in recent years due to our reliance on internet based services, online applications and social media where we have been far too open with what information we share and too relaxed around implementing the correct security on our IT systems, especially our mobile devices. There is no telling what viruses are embedded in the ‘apps’ we download or the links that we click on indiscriminately!

CCTV is a deterrent against opportunist burglars

Online crime is still a crime
A recent ‘Get Safe Online’ survey revealed that over half (53%) of the population now sees online crimes as seriously as ‘physical’ crimes, destroying the notion that online crime is ‘faceless’ and less important than other crimes.

Over half (51%) of those surveyed have been a victim of online crime (Including online fraud or cases resulting in economic loss; identity theft; hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses; and online abuse) although only 32% of these reported the crime.

Around half (47%) of victims did not know who to report an online crime to, although this figure is expected to drop through the on-going work of Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, and the considerable government resources now dedicated to fighting cybercrime.

Use protection…
With countless campaigns and this ever-increasing problem affecting more and more people, we’re starting to see people changing their online behaviour for the better; opting for stronger passwords and being extra vigilant when shopping online. Even simple steps like using credit cards instead of debit cards; logging out of accounts when you go offline and changing privacy and security settings on social media accounts can make a huge difference.

But, in stark contrast, most people still don’t have the most basic protection. More than half (54%) of mobile phone users and around a third (37%) of laptop owners do not have a password or PIN number for their device. That figure rises to over half (59%) for PC users and two thirds (67%) of tablet owners.

Take Action
Quite often, we consider ourselves too busy to look at these issues, but If you were to take a minute to think about your bag, purse or wallet being stolen right now…how much of an impact would that have on you; losing cash, bank cards, identity cards, keys?

Now consider that many of these things can be still be taken by online crime. What have you got in place to stop that happening?

By taking some simple steps, you can protect you and your family. Spend some time one evening or at the weekend ensuring your devices are as secure as they can be. There are some excellent resources available to you, which will cost you nothing, but if you do nothing, it will cost you!

Take action now to protect yourself and make sure your memories of London are all happy ones.