Much like using the rules of the road to keep safe, there are some very simple guidelines we can follow to protect ourselves when using the internet. But new research by not-for-profit organisation getsafeonline.org reveals that, despite the fact that the vast majority of Brits (84%) recognise that it’s our own responsibility to be safe online, we are often not taking the most basic of precautions. This is resulting in an average loss of £236 per victim of online crime which could add up to a staggering £1.5 billion lost to criminal networks.
Put a PIN on it!
Some of the biggest online safety sins involve passwords. In fact, almost half of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed (47%) don’t always log out of websites or apps when they’ve finished using them, which could be particularly dangerous as only 42% of adults use passwords or PINs on their mobiles, or the 38% who don’t put one on their tablet. As mobile devices become more sophisticated, not protecting them with a password can be likened to leaving your keys in your front door, all of the contents are vulnerable to theft and huge bills could be run up in your name.
Also not to be forgotten is the use of default passwords, with a third (29%) still using the standard password on their home wifi, making it easy for neighbours to eat up their data, or eavesdrop on what they’re doing online. But even when original passwords are used to protect devices and online accounts, half of Brits (49%) are using the same password for every single account, and at least four in ten (40%) are using the most obvious personal information to create them like pet’s names (16%) or birthdays (12%). Using common passwords like these makes Brits easy prey for fraudsters.
The survey showed that another basic precaution being ignored by many is installing security software. Just one in four puts security software on their mobiles or tablets (21% and 18% respectively), putting them at a significantly higher risk of spyware, spam, viruses and fraud. This is significantly behind PCs and laptops which are protected 89% and 91% of the time.
It’s not just down to technicalities
It is not just a lack of security that is putting people at risk online but there are a number of other behavioural misdemeanours, particularly when it comes to using social media. For example, the survey found that nearly a third (31%) of social media users have accepted a friend they don’t know in real life, and a quarter (26%) regret something they have posted online. Almost a third (31%) of Snapchat users also do not filter their messages and will accept them from anyone, leaving them open to abuse or inappropriate content.
A bad experience costs time and money
Nearly two thirds (59%) of the respondents have had bad online experiences – ranging from an email account being hacked right through to having our credit or debit card details stolen. While time lost trying to sort out the problem was the main gripe, for those who lost money, the average was £236 per victim.