As new online crime figures reveal £13 million was lost by people in Northern Ireland last year through fraud, including cybercrime, the internet safety organisation, Get Safe Online (GSO), is running three public events here this week to increase cyber awareness right across the community.
A specially commissioned survey to mark Get Safe Online Day (Tuesday October 18) shows that 22 per cent of people in Northern Ireland said they had a limited understanding of the risks they face when going online but 94 per cent said they were somewhat or very concerned about their online safety and security. 94 per cent also said they felt online crime was as damaging, or more damaging, than physical crime.
The online safety events – at Victoria Square in Belfast on Thursday, Foyleside shopping centre in Derry on Friday and at Sprucefield outside Lisburn on Saturday are being supported by the Police Service of Northern Ireland as part of the Organised Crime Task Force and a range of local partners including Retailers Against Crime, Ulster Bank, the Federation of Small Businesses, Trading Standards, cyber security group Cyphra and Invest NI.
Visitors to the events will be able to:
• Have phones, tablets and laptops checked for malware
• Get email addresses scanned for security compromise
It seems there is still a big education job to doGSO chief executive Tony Neate
• Take a spin in the Kaspersky Formula 1 race simulator.
Admission to the events is free at Victoria Square 10.30am-8.30pm on Thursday, at Foyleside 12 midday-7pm on Friday and Sprucefield 10am-6pm on Saturday.
In the GSO survey, 50 per cent of people who said they had been a victim of cybercrime said they felt the matter was too trivial to report. In addition, 53 per cent said they felt there was nothing that could be done.
GSO chief executive Tony Neate said: “We are delighted to be in Northern Ireland this week, working with our partners and providing advice and assistance on a broad range of issues including keeping children safe, protecting devices, shopping, finance, social media, business and fraud.
“The fact that Northern Ireland lost £13 million to cyber criminals, and the UK lost nearly £11 billion last year, is frightening and highlights the need for each and every one of us to make sure we are taking our online safety seriously. It is clear from our survey that people are very concerned, and rightly so.
“The fact that over half of people in Northern Ireland felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online. It seems there is still a big education job to do. Let’s not let cyber criminals get away with it anymore by ensuring that each and every one of us is updating the operating systems of our various devices and ensuring security software is always updated. What’s more, we all need to ensure that we have a different password for each online account we own and website we visit. Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines.”
Mr, Neate revealed anyone attending any of the three events will have the chance to win a pair of tickets to next year’s British Grand Prix.
“Our online security partners Kaspersky are bringing over their Formula One simulator and the fastest lap recorded in Northern Ireland will win the lucky driver two tickets to next year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July. A spin in the simulator will be free to anyone who avails of the advice on offer at our events. Kaspersky will also be offering trial protection packages for devices.”
Detective Chief Inspector Dougie Grant, from PSNI Cyber Crime Centre, said: “The internet offers amazing opportunities to people but it also poses risks. It is estimated that over half of all crime now has a cyber footprint. The Police Service of Northern Ireland deals with more than 300 requests a month relating to cyber incidents. One in 10 people will be victims of a cyber crime. Nine out of 10 large organisations have reported suffering a cyber breach. We are working with partners to minimise these risks. At these pop up shops, we will have officers on hand to provide advice about child protection online and cyber investigation. Action Fraud will also have staff available to answer any questions and offer assistance to visitors.
“We will have specialist advice for small businesses including the Cyber Essentials package designed to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber attacks. The events are being promoted on social media #cybersafeni and we really do believe these are events that can have a positive impact on people’s online experiences.”
This year’s Get Safe Online Day is encouraging everyone to start making every day safer by following a few simple steps:
• Review the passwords you use on your online accounts: Make sure they’re strong enough and that you’re not using the same ones for more than one account. Consider how you’re going to remember them all – such as using an online password safe.
• Check your social media privacy settings. Make sure your information and updates are seen only by those you trust.
• Update your operating system and software programs/apps on your computer, mobile phone and tablet if you’ve been prompted to do so. It takes only a few minutes and with your mobile devices, you can even do it while you’re asleep.
• Back up your information – using the cloud is a great way to save all your documents, photos, music, emails and other irreplaceable files.
• Check that your internet security software and apps are up to date and switched on.
• If you have children, think about whether you’re doing enough to help ensure they’re staying safe online.
• If you’ve lost money report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.
• Take a few minutes to read the expert, easy-to-follow, free advice on all of these and considerably more subjects at www.getsafeonline.org
Get Safe Online is a public/private sector partnership supported by government and leading organisations in banking, retail, internet security and other sectors. It provides practical advice to anyone on how to protect themselves and their devices from online threats.