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Top tips for protecting yourself online

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

One in six adults has fallen victim to a cyber-attack, according to new research from Experian.

However, the research also found that consumers are often not taking steps to protect themselves. Sixty per cent of smartphone users, and almost half (48 per cent) of tablet users, said they had no malware protection on their devices. Around half of the respondents use mobile phones for internet banking and one in three for online shopping.

There has been an 80 per cent increase in phishing attacks directed at mobile devices globally over the past year. Cyber-attacks range from phishing emails, which could result in a fraudster taking over an online account, a fraudster accessing personal details and then using them offline to commit fraud, to session hijacking attacks where a user’s browsing is interrupted by a hacker, monitored or even hijacked.

Ori Eisen, Founder of 41st Parameter and Experian fraud leader, comments: “This year has proved a tipping point for smartphones and tablets. The rapid rise in demand for online banking and retail combined with very little security on devices has created a massive opportunity for cyber criminals leaving many people and businesses extremely vulnerable.

“There are approximately five billion connected devices globally, serving a billion online bank accounts and contributing $13trillion to global ecommerce sales and transactions. With so much at stake, the opportunities for fraudsters are countless and we need to do more – as an industry and as individuals – to protect ourselves.”

The vast majority of people recognise the need for safeguarding their PCs and laptops against online fraud threats, with 93 per cent claiming to have security or antivirus software installed, but they do not take the same precautions with their mobile devices, tablets or smartphones.

Laptops and PCs continue to prove the most vulnerable devices to attack with a majority (83 per cent) of users having fallen victim to cybercrime; however, more than a fifth (21 per cent) suffered a smartphone attack and almost one in six (17 per cent) suffered a tablet attack.

The survey findings suggest it is not that users don’t recognise the seriousness of online security; in fact, two-fifths (41 per cent) of device owners think they are vulnerable to security threats and viruses. Instead, 12 per cent say they hadn’t taken any preventative measures on their smartphone or tablet because they thought they were automatically provided with protection from their mobile service provider. A further 8 per cent believe fraud protection software is too expensive and 8 per cent thought they were protected by the organisation they had made a transaction with. Only a third (29 per cent) of respondents claimed they didn’t have anti-virus software installed because they weren’t aware they needed it.

Protecting your mobile device and personal information:

1. Always use a home screen lock on your mobile device.
2. Don’t store account names and passwords or digital pictures of your passport.
3. Remember that public Wi-Fi networks are riskier than private networks, so be careful with the information you access and share when out and about.
4. Your email account is linked to many other accounts and can hold a large amount of personally-identifiable information. Beware of phishing – if an email seems suspicious, don’t open it or click on any links within the email. A legitimate company will never ask for your account details via email. If contacts have received emails from you that you did not send, change all your online passwords immediately.
5. Social media sites can reveal your date of birth, maiden name, email address and enough information to help a fraudster identify possible PIN and/or passwords. Consider how much you really need to share.