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October 18, 2016

Online fraud and cybercrime costs UK economy nearly £11 billion a year

Poor security knowledge and dire password practice is costing the UK billions.

By Ellie Burns

According to data from Action Fraud, the UK economy potentially lost a staggering £10.9 billion to fraud and cybercrime in 2015/16. This equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16 living in the UK.

The figures from Action Fraud could not come at a more apt time as today, 18th October, is Get Safe Online Day – when the public and small businesses are urged to start making every day safer.

However, this could prove an uphill battle with a Get Safe Online and NFIB survey revealing that losses from fraud and cybercrime could be even higher than the Action Fraud numbers. According to the survey, respondents who had been a victim of online crime alone lost an average of £523 each – this being more than the average weekly earnings figure for the UK which currently stands at £505.

Missing piece from a jigsaw puzzle revealing the word fraud

In addition, 39% of people who said they’d been victims of online crime said they hadn’t reported the incident, with the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggesting this may be as low as one-fifth of victims– this meaning that the overall amount of money lost by the UK could in fact be even more.

Understanding of threats online by respondents was also shown to be low, with a quarter of (25%) respondents saying that they had a limited understanding of the risks they face when going online. Nine in 10 (89%) said they were somewhat or very concerned about their online safety and security, while 89% also felt online crime was as damaging or more damaging than physical crime.

The lack of understanding extended to what constitutes an online crime, with 86% phish2saying that they had not been targeted by cyber criminals in the past 12 months. 68%, however, said that they had been targeted in a number of different ways – fraudulent emails (53%), hacked email of social media accounts (10%), and ransomware (3%).

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The survey also revealed that security basics are still not being undertaken, with as many as 43% saying that they use the same password for multiple online accounts. Even when a company warns people to change their password after a breach – three in 10 have been contacted to do so – 12% said they did not follow the advice. The survey found that people use an average 9 passwords across devices and accounts.

City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greany, the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, said: “The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK. 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.”

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