CITY of London Police has moved to protect the Square Mile’s small business scene after figures revealed that fraud and cybercrime cost the UK economy close to £11billion in the last year.
Statistics from Get Safe Online, an awareness resource devised to assist in the prevention of internet fraud, show that £10.9bn escaped the pockets of taxpayers as a result of criminal activity – with small firms among the most vulnerable. The figure equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16, but represents only reported fraud and cybercrime to Action Fraud.
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 reported they’d been victims of online crime said they hadn’t reported the incident – meaning the overall amount lost could be even more.
Furthermore, a quarter (25%) 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. The vast majority also felt online crime was as damaging or more damaging than physical crime.
City of London Police Commander Chris Greany, the national co-ordinator for economic crime, said: “All of us need to ask ourselves ‘are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals’. Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online.”
The Get Safe Online report went on to say that basic security procedure was not being followed by the large majority of the public – with 43% using the same password for multiple accounts.
Chief executive of Get Safe Online Tony Neate described the results as “frightening”. He added: “It is clear from our survey that people are very concerned, and rightly so.
“The fact that over a third of people felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online. Also, as our research shows, people are losing large sums of money on average – £523 being the equivalent of a holiday abroad or the price of a new piece of technology in the home. As a result, it seems there is still a big education job to do.”
Mr Neate advised people to check out the list of staying safe online tips at getsafeonline.org. “Let’s not let cyber criminals get away with it anymore by ensuring that each and every one of us is updating the operating systems of our various devices and ensuring security software is always updated,” he added.
“What’s more, we all need to ensure that we have a different password for each online account we own and website we visit. Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines.”