UK consumers living in cyber denial when dealing with cyber security

Threats / UK consumers living in cyber denial when dealing with cyber security issues

17 May 2018

| Author: Jay Jay

New survey has revealed that most UK consumers are blissfully unaware when it comes to dealing with cyber security issues and are failing to take basic precautions, yet many of them believe that they have the knowledge of what needs to be done to ensure their privacy online.

The survey, carried out by DAS UK Group and HSB Engineering Insurance, also revealed that many UK consumers have wrong conceptions regarding how their data is stored and handled by businesses, and are seemingly oblivious to many IT and technological basics.

Consumers confident about defending themselves

64 percent of consumers surveyed by the two firms said they were fairly confident in dealing with computer or online security, while another 24 percent said they were very confident. Only 12 percent of those surveyed said they were not very confident about dealing with issues on online security.

A fairly large number of people also used basic security measures to protect their household against cyber risk. While 77 percent of people used antivirus solutions, 76 percent used strong passwords in their devices, 66 percent used different passwords for different online accounts, 59 percent installed security updates as soon as they were available, and 49 percent back up their data regularly.

Lack of understanding

Despite taking basic measures to protect themselves and their household from online threats, many UK consumers hold beliefs that are not consistent with the real-world scenario. For instance, less than half (47 percent) of consumers do not know that SSL certificates help in checking if a website is genuine.

At the same time, 63 percent of consumers believe that longer passwords are more secure. This is certainly not true as a combination of numbers, letters and special characters make a password more secure, not its length. Many consumers also falsely believe that banks are required to refund money to victims that is transferred to fraudsters.

There are also a lot of assumptions among consumers about how their data is stored by social media platforms and how much control they have over their own data. For instance, 49 percent of people erroneously believe that they retain full ownership and control of all photos, videos and data published on social media sites. Many are also unaware that social media sites can retain various rights over things people post which also makes it hard to ever completely delete or remove your ‘digital footprint’.

“People should also pay attention to what information they share on social media. Information like the town you were born in, your mother’s maiden name or age of your first child can be used by fraudsters. Social media can be a goldmine for anyone wanting to impersonate you or even break in when they see that you’re away on holiday,” said Stephen Worrall, Managing Director at HSB Engineering Insurance.

“If you’re transferring a significant amount of money to someone, always check the provenance of the account details you have received. Validate any account details sent to you by email by talking to the company directly (the good old fashioned telephone is much safer!), particularly if you receive emails informing you that the company’s account details have changed,” warns James Henderson, Managing Director Insurance UK & Ireland at DAS UK Group.

Even though they may not have accurate understanding of how to protect themselves online, consumers are well aware of online threats and risks to their privacy. While 74 percent of people list identity theft as their top cyber security concern, 72 percent believe theft of personal data is the biggest concern, and 70 percent believe online fraud is the biggest risk to their privacy.

Double standards on sharing personal data

Not so long ago, a study by BGB had revealed that UK consumers had “double standards” when it came to sharing their personal data. According to the study, while consumers were happy to hand over their data for discounts and on social media, they were not as willing to share it to fight fraud or terrorism.

28 per cent publicly shared their birthdays on social media, 22 per cent shared where they went to school or university and 34 per cent were not sure if their profiles were private. But just 51 per cent said they would share their data with organisations and the government to prevent fraud, and only 31 per cent would do so to help stop terrorism.

“We will quite happily share personal information on social media, or with retailers for discounts and deals on our favourite products, but put our guards up when it comes to sharing with organisations and the government. This approach to data sharing causes more harm than good.

“Social media accounts can often be openly available to those with malicious intent and the information we share – whilst seemingly innocuous – can provide them the valuable data they need to commit fraudulent acts,” said Nick Brown, group managing director at GBG.

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