New research released today shows that more than half (53%) of individuals over 55 would prefer to endure the flu than grapple with the potential consequences of data theft. However, many confess to taking no steps to mitigate these risks.
Considering the severity of the flu, particularly among pensioners, this stark contrast in priorities highlights their awareness of the dangers of the dark web. Nonetheless, 80% of those aged over 55 rarely or never check for data breaches, primarily because many (58%) don’t know how to do so.
The research to mark Cybersecurity Awareness Month was conducted with 2,000 adults in the UK by F-Secure, a global leader in cyber security, and emphasises the need for greater education on this critical issue.
In the past 12 months, more than a million people over 55 have had their data leaked which comes after research from Age UK revealed one-in-four (25%) people aged over 65 are unable to keep their login information and passwords secure – exposing them to potential data fraud. However, it is surprising considering those over 55 are more informed about the dark web, a marketplace for buying stolen data, than any other age group.
A third (33%) of respondents in this age bracket accurately described the dark web as a part of the internet that can only be accessed using specialised browsers, contrasting with around a quarter (27%) of Generation Z – some of which admitted they thought the term ‘dark web’ simply referred to browsing the internet at night, not a part of the internet which permits illicit and criminal behaviour and sits as a destination for cybercriminals to buy stolen personal data.
Tom Gaffney, Principal Consultant at F-Secure: “Data leaks are not exclusive to particular age groups, they can happen to anyone, but what our research has highlighted is a distinct lack of action taken by the over 55s, who are more aware than any other demographic about the dark web. The fact that older people would opt for the flu over a data hack shows just how problematic and serious data theft can be.”
More broadly across all ages, the report found a misperception that the dark web is monitored and policed for data leaks. A quarter of Britons (27%) would call the police if hacked – however, data being compromised isn’t always a police matter.
With increased digital transformation and high-profile data breaches happening with global brands the availability of personal data on the dark web is set to become even greater. F-Secure experts warn that consumer apathy about the dark web and data leaks could lead to financial and online identity difficulties for many if we don’t start checking our data security on a more regular basis.
Tom Gaffney, Principal Consultant at F-Secure, continues: “Data leaks can lead to identity theft, financial fraud, and other forms of cybercrime. This emphasises the need for individuals to be proactive in safeguarding their data and understanding the steps they can take to mitigate risks. We must work together to change that.”
To help Brits mitigate the risks, Tom offers three tips:
- Regularly check to see if your data has been compromised using free online tools such as F-Secure’s ID Theft Checker. It takes less than five minutes to check if you’ve been compromised and it doesn’t cost a penny to do so.
- After receiving your report, change the passwords for the sites that may have been compromised. Use a good password manager to create strong individual passwords for each site. Never use the same password for multiple sites.
- Contact the companies where your data has been compromised, especially if it’s your credit or debit card.
To check if your data has been compromised visit F-Secure’s free ID Theft Checker tool https://www.f-secure.com/gb-en/identity-theft-checker