Ahead of Data Privacy Day on 28 January 2021, cybersecurity experts F-Secure are calling for consumers to be more aware of where their data is as the UK faces major challenges with data fraud.

The plea comes following the news that credit card, identity and cyber-fraud is now the biggest type of crime within the UK, meaning that it is the most likely crime the public will fall victim to. In 2019-20 there were 3.7 million reported incidents according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.

Tom Gaffney, principal security consultant at F-Secure comments: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in internet usage, from shopping online to homeschooling and criminals are looking for ways to exploit the sharp rise of online resilience.

“Whilst F-Secure research found that 65% of internet users are worried or very worried about having their identity stolen, many consumers are still making obvious errors when it comes to their online activity. This is a serious issue and if criminals do get hold of our data they can do anything – from stealing our passwords, to accessing our critical accounts, to taking over our identities. It’s therefore really important that people start being more vigilant with their personal data so they don’t fall victim to crime.”

Here are four common mistakes that leave people vulnerable online and what they can do to increase their protection:

 Sharing isn’t always caring:

Streaming services have soared since the pandemic with many of us turning to TV in lieu of normal activities. But with this has come an increase in sharing platform logins.

F-Secure research last year found that 42% of Brits said they share streaming services with between one to three people, including those outside of their own household such as colleagues and former partners. Subsequently, 37% of people are getting their online content through a mix of their own subscriptions and using shared access through someone else’s account.

The danger here is that your password is in the hands of someone else who may not be following best practice when it comes to data security. So whilst it may seem like you’re doing a friend a favour, it may result in you being a victim of crime.

Password problem: 

F-Secure research found that 41% of respondents use the same password on multiple accounts, with 56% using the same password with only slight variations. With the average person having 18 password protected accounts, one leaked credential could quickly lead to multiple risks for each user.

It’s therefore vital to have strong, unique passwords across accounts to be protected. Regularly change these too and make use of software that securely saves them for you.

Living your life online:

There is no doubt we are all spending more time online since COVID-19. However, this can mean personal details are being shared more than ever, which can lead to clues about passwords. Kids’ names, birthdays, pets, anniversaries and addresses can all be common threads when it comes to passwords and sharing these online can lead to criminals accessing your accounts and data.

So, think twice about what you share and who to. As ever it’s always good to keep on top of your privacy settings on social media too.

Educating home learners:

With many of the UK’s children currently homeschooling, the use of online tools and resources have soared. Lessons are now carried out via Zoom or Google Classroom, and apps such as Reading Eggs and Numberbots have become great ways to educate at home. However, these accounts are often set up quickly by parents or by children themselves with little or no understanding of the importance of secure passwords and accounts. This creates dangerous territory for many.

Children are typically well educated on cyber bullying and other dangerous online activity but less so on fraud. Now is a great time to explain to children why keeping personal data secure is so crucial and how criminals can exploit these details if they’re not safeguarded.

Despite the very real threat of cyber-crime, many people still aren’t putting suitable measures in place to protect themselves. Creating and managing multiple strong and unique passwords is tricky, which is why F-Secure launched ID PROTECTION, helping users stay safe online while removing the hassle of juggling several passwords at once. ID Protection also continuously monitors and detects exposed personal information online, providing instant alerts and guidance on how to respond when there has been a breach or data leak.

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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