East loses £188m to cyber crime - here is how not to become a victim

Undated file photo of a person using a laptop keyboard.

Undated file photo of a person using a laptop keyboard. - Credit: PA

The East of England lost more than £188m due to cyber crime in the past 18 months - and the trend is set to worsen, experts have warned. 

The British public might be reacting quickly to the changing landscape of 2021 - but cyber criminals are working just as hard to cash in on an online society.

The trend is already set, with the National Cyber Security Centre reporting a 72pc increase in cyber crime cases during the March 2020 lockdown.

In the East of England alone individuals and businesses have lost £188.2m to cyber crime in the past 13 months alone.

Indeed, in the past two weeks cyber security experts are seeing increases in scams relating to delivery services such as Royal Mail and DPD. 

Exacerbating the problem is a lack of technological skills and knowledge of where to turn should individuals fall victim of a scam. 

Recent data commissioned by software consultants Prolific Testing showed that just half of the British population would report it to the police if they were being cyber blackmailed. 

Online banking fraud would see 53pc of the public go to the police as their first port of call, while the likes of social media hacks and shopping fraud would see the public go to the service providers. 

The vast majority of scams originate from phishing emails - which appears to come from a legitimate source asking for information but are in fact fraudulent - said David Buist, business development director at Green Duck, Labsec and Source Code Studio. 

The East Anglian-based companies skills range from cyber protection to web development, with Mr Buist saying: “The vast majority of scams start with an email. You might respond to an apparent delivery email reconfirming your address and that’s all it takes. 

“These criminals will send out tens of thousands - if not millions - of emails and they just need one response to land to be in with an opportunity.”

He added that sophisticated social media advertising is also causing a lot of problems: “Someone I know recently fell foul of a very convincing scam. It was a clothing website which seemed entirely legitimate - the only indication in hindsight was that the web address was registered abroad.

“You give this site your address, your postcode, your payment details. You might even create an account with an email address and password similar to that on other sites. Then they have everything they need and can even sell these details on the dark web. The vulnerable end of every online transaction is the human at the end of it.” 

Mr Buist’s final tip was to keep on top of shared accounts and apps: “When it comes to shared accounts like Netflix and Disney+ make sure you have strong passwords as there are more routes to enter your account. 

“The final thing is to always update your apps. If there are updates it will mean there are some security spots in earlier versions which have been modified and strengthened. A phone with apps well out of date is a hacker’s dream.”

Mr Buist’s team - which is based in Bury St Edmunds but have operations across the region - can identify which email addresses have been sold on the dark web. 

“My advice for this lockdown to the public would just be education - whether it’s a free resource or chatting to other people. The more you know the safer you’ll be.

“The current statistics say that a cyber crime is completed once every 39 seconds and that figure used to be well over a few minutes. This problem is only going to continue.”

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