Financial losses caused by cyber crimes surged by nearly three-quarters as the UK entered lockdown, according to the City of London Police.
The force, which runs the national Action Fraud service, said it received 3,916 reports of online incidents during the first month of lockdown alone – the equivalent of £2.9 million in reported losses and an increase of almost 72% compared to the previous month.
Cyber criminals struck in March as people able to work from home were ordered to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We want to make the UK the safest place to be online and we’re working tirelessly to defeat cyber criminals,’ said Ian Dyson, Commissioner of the City of London Police.
‘Cyber crime is a growing trend, with total losses increasing.
‘In particular, criminals are targeting social media users and online account holders in a bid to make money and steal personal details.
‘We work closely with our partners, individuals and businesses to tackle the threat of cyber crime.’
It comes as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) received more than 1.8 million reports in August from its own reporting service, which allows people to forward suspicious emails directly to the agency for further investigation.
Ciaran Martin, who recently left his role as the first head of NCSC, recently said cyber criminals and foreign spies had been quick to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic for their gain.
There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure you don’t become a victim of cyber crime.
Check for software updates
Then actually install them. Hackers can take advantage of bugs in the system, but as soon as programmers are aware of errors they can fix them. So keep your computer up to date!
Choose strong passwords
It’s obvious but one of the easiest and most important ways to keep yourself safe.
Experts recommend using at least eight characters and a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (e.g. $&*?).
Avoid using actual words or any personal information, and keep your passwords somewhere other people won’t see them. At the very least, make sure your email and online banking are well protected.
If you use online banking, keep track of each transaction and investigate anything you don’t recognise or don’t remember paying for.
Cyber criminals may try to siphon small amounts of money from lots of different accounts to avoid detection, so everything is worth checking out.
Use security software
Keep this updated as well. There are lots of free anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes available and you should make sure this is turned on every time you surf the net.
…to anyone claiming to be a foreign prince whose bank account has been blocked, anyone asking you to ‘just confirm’ your account details or anyone warning you if you don’t your Facebook account will be deleted.
They don’t have $352,376,492 in a bank account with your name on it. It’s pretty obvious, but there’s a whole world of scams out there and you should be be wary of anyone asking for money or personal information.