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Criminals target UK’s youth as cases of identity fraud increase

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing a 52% rise in young identity fraud victims in the UK. In 2015, just under 24,000 (23,959) people aged 30 and under were victims of identity fraud. This is up from 15,766 in 2014, and more than double the 11,000 victims in this age bracket in 2010.

The figures have been published on the same day as a new short film, entitled ‘Data to Go’, is launched online to raise awareness of this type of fraud. Shot in a London coffee shop in March this year, the film uses hidden cameras to capture baffled reactions from people caught in a stunt where their personal data, all found on public websites, is revealed to them live on a coffee cup.

Identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or take out a loan in their name. Often, victims don’t even realise that they’ve been targeted until a bill arrives for something they didn’t buy or they experience problems with their credit rating.

IdentityTheftNew

To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters usually have access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank details and information on who they hold accounts with. Fraudsters gain such detail in a variety of ways, including through hacking and data loss, as well as using social media to put the pieces of someone’s identity together. 86% of all identity frauds in 2015 were perpetrated online.

People of all ages can be at risk of identity fraud, but with growing numbers of young people falling victim, Cifas is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime.

Fraudsters are opportunists

Simon Dukes, CEO of Cifas, said: “Fraudsters are opportunists. As banks and lenders have become more adept at detecting false identities, so the fraudsters have instead focused on stealing and using genuine people’s details. Society, Government and industry all have a role to play in preventing fraud. However, our concern is that the lack of awareness about identity fraud is making it even easier for fraudsters to obtain the information they need.”

Dukes continued: “The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other online platforms are much more than just social media sites – they’re now a hunting ground for identity thieves. We’re urging people to check their privacy settings today and think twice about what information they share. Social media is fantastic, and the way we live our lives online gives us huge opportunities. Taking a few simple steps will help us to enjoy the benefits while reducing the risks. To a fraudster, the information we put online is a goldmine.”

IdentityTheftSign

Commander Chris Greany, the City of London Police’s national co-ordinator for economic crime, added: “We’ve known for some time that identity fraud has become the engine that drives much of today’s criminality, and so it’s vitally important that people keep their personal information safe and secure. In the fight against fraud, education is key and it’s great that Cifas and its members are taking identity fraud seriously and working together to raise awareness of how the issue is now increasingly affecting young people through the launch of this film.”

As part of the campaign, Cifas commissioned a survey with Britain Thinks to find out more about 18-24 year olds’ attitudes towards personal data and identity fraud. The survey found that young people are alarmingly unaware that they’re at risk:

  • Only 34% of 18-24 year olds say they learned about online security when they were at school
  • 50% of the 18-24 year olds surveyed believe they would never fall for an online scam (compared to the national average of 37%)
  • Only 57% of 18-24 year olds report thinking about how secure their personal details are online (compared to 73% for the population as a whole)

They’re also less likely to install anti-virus software on their mobile phone than the national average (27% compared to 37%).

Organisations such as the City of London Police, Action Fraud, Get Safe Online, Her Majesty’s Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign, Financial Fraud Action UK and Cifas members including Coventry Building Society, BT and Secure Trust Bank are all supporting the campaign and sharing the new film across their social media networks.

Cifas is also appealing to youth organisations, schools and universities to share the film so it reaches as many young people as possible.

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Top 10 online-enabled frauds hitting British wallets to the tune of £670 million

Organisers of Get Safe Online – the joint public-private sector Internet safety initiative – have revealed the financial and emotional cost of cyber crime. In a specially commissioned poll of 2,000 people by Vision Critical for Get Safe Online Week 2014 (running from 20 to 26 October), half (50%) of those who have been a victim of cyber crime (including online fraud or cases resulting in economic loss, ID theft, hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses and online abuse) said they felt either ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ violated by their ordeal.

Separate figures prepared by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) for Get Safe Online Week offer an indication as to the sheer scale of online crime, with over £670 million lost nationwide to the Top 10 Internet-enabled frauds reported between 1 September 2013 and 31 August this year. The £670 million statistic emanates from reported instances of fraud, calculated when the first contact with victims was via an online function.

Given that a significant number of Internet-enabled fraud cases still pass by unreported, the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.

The Get Safe Online survey also reveals that over half (53%) of the population now views online crime just as seriously as they do ‘physical world’ crimes, destroying the notion that online crime is ‘faceless’ and less important than other crimes. As a result, more cyber crime victims (54%) wish to unmask a perpetrator but only 14% have succeeded in doing so.

Get Safe Online Week 2014 is focused on awareness around individuals not becoming the victim of cyber fraud

Get Safe Online Week 2014 is focused on awareness around individuals not becoming the victim of cyber fraud

As stated, half (50%) of those individuals surveyed for Get Safe Online Week have been a victim of online crime although only 32% of these people reported the fact. Around half (47%) of victims did not know to whom they should report an online crime, although this figure is expected to drop due to the ongoing work of Action Fraud (the UK’s national fraud reporting centre) and the considerable Government resources now dedicated to fighting cyber crime.

On a more positive note, victims in the Get Safe Online poll said that their experiences have shocked them into changing their behaviour for the better, with nearly half (45%) opting for stronger passwords and 42% now being extra vigilant when shopping online. Over a third (37%) always log out of accounts when they go offline and nearly a fifth (18%) have changed their security settings on their social media accounts.

In stark contrast, however, most people still don’t have the most basic protection in place. 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%) when it comes to tablet owners.

The 'Don't Be A Victim' Infographic produced by the team at Get Safe Online

The ‘Don’t Be A Victim’ Infographic produced by the team at Get Safe Online

Supporting law enforcement’s response to cyber crime

Commenting on the survey results, Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office) stated: “The UK cyber market is worth over £80 billion a year and rising. The Internet is undoubtedly a force for good, but we simply cannot stand still in the face of these threats which already cost our economy billions every year.”

Maude continued: “As part of this Government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make the UK one of the most secure places in which to do business in cyberspace. We have an £860 million Cyber Security Programme in place which supports law enforcement’s response to cyber crime, and we’re also working with the private sector to help all businesses protect their vital information assets.”

Francis Maude MP: Minister for the Cabinet Office

Francis Maude MP: Minister for the Cabinet Office

In conclusion, the Cabinet Office leader added: “Our Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves. Cyber security is not an issue for Government alone. We must all take action to defend ourselves against the threats now being posed.”

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, explained: “Our research shows just how serious a toll cyber crime can take, both on the wallet and on well-being. This has been no more apparent than in the last few weeks with various large-scale personal photo hacks of celebrities and members of the general public. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common now that we live a greater percentage of our lives in the online space.”

Neate went on to state: “This year, Get Safe Online Week is all about ‘Don’t Be A Victim’. We can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on our computers and mobile devices, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when we’re finished. The more the public do this, the more criminals will not be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Tony Neate: CEO at Get Safe Online

Tony Neate: CEO at Get Safe Online

Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, head of the NFIB at the City of London Police, said: “Cheap and easy access to the Internet is changing the world and transforming our lives. What many of us may be less aware of is the fact that financial crime has moved online and poses a major threat to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor. It matters little who you are, where you live or what you do.”

O’Doherty continued: “It’s vitally important people are fully aware of the dangers around fraud and Internet-enabled fraud which is why the City of London Police, in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud and home to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, is fully supportive of Get Safe Online’s week of action.”

Importantly, O’Doherty added: “I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report this to Action Fraud. It’s only then that local police forces will be able to track down the main offenders and ensure victims receive the best possible support as they try to recover from what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting experience.”

Have you been a victim of cyber-enabled fraud?

George Anderson, director of product marketing at Internet security specialist Webroot, has also offered his views on the survey results.

“It’s sad but not surprising that 53% of British people have fallen victim to cyber crime,” asserted Anderson. “The Internet has been assimilated into our daily lives to the point where it’s easy to forget how hazardous it is if the proper security measures are not taken.”

Anderson continued: “The key to making the UK a safe Internet user zone is education. As a country, as communities and as individuals we should be actively promoting awareness of Internet safety and security issues. The Government’s research should not scare people away from online activities, but rather start the process of serious and continuous conversations whereby we evaluate the online precautions we take both at home and at work. Education should start at an early age, with parents and education bodies working to ensure future generations populated by ‘security savvy’ individuals.”

Adding to that message, Anderson said: “Understanding what preventative measures we can take ranges from a rudimentary awareness through to in-depth technical knowledge. However, far too many people have become too complacent with modern technology to even practice the basics. The modern person should by now know that computers ought to be protected by updated, Best-of-Breed anti-spyware and anti-virus software. They should practice safe surfing habits and harbour a full comprehension of online activities that would place their information at more risk than others. Also, they ought to be able to identify and understand website privacy policies and know when or when not to impart information regarding personal data.”

*If you think you may have been the victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (ie where you have lost money), you should report the occurrence to Action Fraud and include as much detail as possible. Telephone: 0300 123 2040. Alternatively, visit: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk

**If you have been the victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force

***For general advice on how to stay safe online visit: http://www.GetSafeOnline.org

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Over £21 million lost to social engineering scams since the beginning of 2014

Get Safe Online, the UK Government and private sector-backed information service on Internet safety and security, is raising awareness of ‘social engineering’ scams through a new series of informative videos offering advice and tips.

A type of confidence trick, ‘social engineering’ is the use of deceit to manipulate or trick victims into certain actions including divulging personal or financial information. Examples include phishing e-mails and fraudulent phone calls asking for personal or financial information – known as ‘vishing’ – or phone calls from fraudsters impersonating computer technical support agents.

According to FFA UK, approximately 23% of people in the UK have received a cold call requesting personal or financial information, potentially putting them at risk of becoming a victim.

In the first five months of this year alone, some of the UK’s main High Street banks have reported losses of over £21 million from vishing attacks on their customers, with over 2,000 vishing attacks resulting in an average loss of over £10,000 per victim.

Social engineering exploits human nature and plays on victims’ emotions such as protecting themselves, their family and finances, gaining something of advantage or willingness to please others. It’s a factor in many types of fraud.

Schemes may be elaborate and highly convincing

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, commented: “It’s important that the public are aware of what social engineering actually is, as there are so many types which can lead to the theft of your money or identity. It can be easy to fall prey to social engineering because schemes can be elaborate and highly convincing, with approaches usually made by somebody you think you should trust or appears to be in authority. It’s not just individuals who are likely victims, it’s also businesses.”

Get Safe Online – the UK Government and private sector-backed information service on Internet safety and security – is raising awareness of ‘social engineering’ scams through a new series of informative videos offering advice and tips

Get Safe Online – the UK Government and private sector-backed information service on Internet safety and security – is raising awareness of ‘social engineering’ scams through a new series of informative videos offering advice and tips

Neate added: “We hope that by raising awareness of how to avoid becoming a victim of social engineering through our online videos and activity with our partners, we can help prevent it from happening to others.”

Alasdair MacFarlane, head of customer security at NatWest, said: “NatWest is committed to providing safe and secure banking alongside an excellent level of customer service. Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to gain access to money which is why we offer our customers a Secure Banking Promise, as well as lots of advice on our website to help them avoid falling victim to a scam. We’re delighted to be working with Get Safe Online in raising awareness on this important issue.”

Dawn Cornwall, fraud and security manager at Lloyds Banking Group, explained: “At Lloyds Banking Group we are committed to making sure our customers’ Internet banking experience is as safe as possible. We use cutting-edge technology to protect their personal information and privacy. We also have our online guarantee in place if a customer experiences fraud in Internet banking and a wealth of advice and guidance on our websites. We’re really pleased to be working with Get Safe Online on the Social Engineering campaign.”

Alex Grant, Barclays’ managing director of fraud prevention, stated: “We’ve seen from our own interaction with customers who have fallen victim to social engineering frauds that the loss of hard-earned savings causes great emotional distress, as well as having a significant financial impact. This is why raising awareness about social engineering scams and protecting customers from fraud is one of our highest priorities. Barclays fully endorses this awareness campaign and we’re pleased that our sponsorship of Get Safe Online is helping provide consumer education and promote awareness of scams such as these.”

Detective Superintendent Peter O’Doherty is the head of the NFIB and Action Fraud. Speaking about the Get Safe Online initiative, he said: “The face of crime has significantly changed in recent years, with much of today’s offending being conducted not on a face-to-face basis but over the phone and through a computer. People need to be aware there are ruthless, calculating criminals using social engineering scams to obtain personal and financial information that makes them a profit and individuals and businesses the victims of crime. This multi-media Get Safe Online campaign will shine a light on these practices and help the public know when they are being targeted and the best ways in which to protect themselves.”

How to avoid becoming the victim of social engineering

Getsafeonline.org offers a number of tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of social engineering:

• Always be wary of people requesting confidential or personal information by whatever means, however convincing they may seem
• Never reveal personal or financial data including usernames, passwords, PINs or other forms of ID
• Be very careful that people or organisations to whom you are supplying payment card information are genuine, and then never reveal passwords. Remember that a bank or other reputable organisation will never ask you for your password via e-mail or a phone call
• If you receive a phone call requesting confidential information, verify that it’s authentic by asking for a full and correct spelling of the person’s name and a call back number
• Check the number matches the contact number on the relevant website. Even then, the criminal may have used special software to display the authentic number
• If you are asked by a caller to end the call and phone your bank or card provider, call the number on your bank statement or other document from your bank – or on the back of your card. However, be sure to use another phone from the one you received the call on to ensure that a fraudster is not on the line by having kept the call open. If you cannot access another phone, be sure to hang up for at least five minutes before you dial out, or call a friend (whose voice you recognise) before making another call
• Do not open e-mail attachments from unknown sources
• Do not readily click on links in e-mails from unknown sources. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from the email
• Do not attach external storage devices or insert CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs into your computer if you are not certain of the source, or just because you are curious about their contents

*For more advice on how to avoid this type of fraud visit: http://www.getsafeonline.org/socialengineering to watch the online advice videos

About Get Safe Online

Now entering its eighth year of operation, Get Safe Online (www.getsafeonline.org) is the UK’s national Internet security awareness initiative.

A joint partnership between the UK Government, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Ofcom, law enforcement bodies and private sector sponsors from the worlds of technology, communication, retail and finance, the initiative continues to educate, inform and raise awareness of online security issues to encourage confident and safe use of the Internet.

GetSafeOnline.org is supported by Barclays, Bob’s Business, Creative Virtual, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HM Government, HSBC, Kaspersky Lab, Lloyds Banking Group, the National Crime Agency, Symantec, the National Fraud Authority and Action Fraud, Ofcom, HSBC, Microsoft, PayPal, Symantec, Standard Life, Gumtree, Camelot, Detica, StubHub, Nominet, PurchaseSeal, ValidSoft, Business Link, the Charity Commission, Citizens Advice, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Information Systems Security Association, e-Crime Wales, Information Risk Management plc, the Institute of Information Security Professionals, RG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), the International Association of Accountants Innovation and Technology Consultants, the Internet Services Providers’ Association, Neighbourhood and Home Watch, PTA-UK, SafeBuy, Safer Jobs, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, Scottish Police College, the Scottish Business Crime Centre and UK Online Centres.

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Christmas shoppers warned to be vigilant when buying online

Action Fraud, the City of London Police and Get Safe Online are warning consumers to take extra care when shopping online for tablets, games consoles, electrical items and other Christmas gifts.

Last Christmas, fraudsters conned consumers out of more than £12 million through online shopping and auction scams. Action Fraud received more than 10,000 reports, with the average loss to victims more than £1,700.

Record numbers are expected to log-on for Christmas shopping this year, in turn creating opportunities for retailers and bargain hunters but also presenting opportunities for fraudsters.

Last year, fraudsters conned consumers out of more than £12 million over Christmas through online shopping and auction scams

Last year, fraudsters conned consumers out of more than £12 million over Christmas through online shopping and auction scams

Security minister James Brokenshire said: “We are taking the fight to cyber criminals with the newly-created National Cyber Crime Unit, which is part of the National Crime Agency, but the public should also stay vigilant to ensure they don’t lose their hard-earned money on fakes and frauds. Following straightforward steps while shopping online will help the public to avoid cyber fraudsters.”

Brokenshire added: “Shoppers can find great bargains online ahead of Christmas, and this time of year provides a welcome boost to retailers, but shoppers should remember if something looks too good to be true that’s often the case.”

Looking out for the warning signs

Action Fraud experts say that even the most confident online shopper can be caught out by professional fraudsters. Fraudsters often target vulnerable shoppers who are unsure in using modern technology.

Consumers should look out for the warning signs that a website may not be secure. Action Fraud, Get Safe Online and the City of London Police (who run the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau) encourage online shoppers to be particularly careful when using new websites and sites that offer deals that look too good to be true.

By following these simple tips you can keep fraudsters at bay this Christmas:

1. Trust your instincts: if an offer looks too good to be true it usually is. Legitimate popular technology and designer items are rarely discounted
2. Check the URL in the web browser. Don’t be fooled by spoof websites where the address is slightly different
3. Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage (this indicates a secure payment)
4. Don’t access links in unsolicited e-mails. Always type in the website address or use a search engine to find a site
5. Only deal with reputable sellers. Only use sites you know or ones that have been recommended to you
6. Avoid paying by money transfers direct to people you don’t know. Use an online payment option such as PayPal which helps to protect you
7. Watch out for pop-ups appearing asking you to confirm your card details before you’re on the payment stage. Never enter your PIN number online
8. If your bid for an online auction item is unsuccessful, don’t be tempted to trade off-site if another seller approaches you with a similar item. This is likely to be a scam and you will not be covered
9. Keep security software and firewalls up-to-date. Regularly update your Internet browser when a new patch (security update) is released
10. Keep receipts and check these against your statement. If you spot a transaction you did not authorise speak to your card company immediately.

Scams change and adapt

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “£12.4 million is a huge amount of money to be lost to online fraud but, unfortunately, it’s the type of figure I see every year. The problem is, scams change and adapt as trends come and go. Scammers have also become more sophisticated as we get wiser to what is and isn’t legitimate so it’s understandable that people sometimes get caught out.”

Neate added: “We know how busy and stressful Christmas can be so we don’t want to overwhelm people with complicated advice, but we urge consumers to keep the basics in mind as a good preventative measure. It’s easy to get carried away when you spot a bargain online for that gift you’ve been all over the High Street trying to find, but take a step back and think before you buy it. Is it too good to be true?”

Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Clark, director of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, commented: “Online shopping has revolutionised the way in which we buy our Christmas presents, with each year more and more people choosing to search for gifts over the Internet rather than heading to the shops. However, the result is that online fraud is top of the festive scam list.”

He continued: “To reverse this trend, we all need to be extra careful about what we’re buying online and from whom, especially if it is popular technology at a reduced price. By carrying out all the necessary checks you should guarantee that your presents will be enjoyed by friends and family and not lost to fraudsters.”

Items most at risk from fraud

Based on an analysis from last year, the items most sought after – and therefore most at risk from fraud – are smart phones. However, electronic goods in general, including computers, tablets, laptops, games consoles and e-readers were also very popular.

In January, the Government and partners will be launching a new campaign to increase public and small and medium enterprises’ confidence online by helping them to adopt simple changes to their online behaviour.

Private sector partners who have joined the campaign include Financial Fraud Action UK, Sophos, the RBS Group, Trend Micro and Facebook who are providing investment and support.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of this type of fraud, report it to Action Fraud so that the incident can be passed to the police.

Christmas shopping tips from Get Safe Online

http://www.getsafeonline.org/themes/ChristmasCampaign/index.php

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