National Crime Agency warns web users to install software updates, even on mobiles, or risk becoming the victim of cyber crime
Two in five British Internet users are putting themselves at risk by not protecting all of their devices with security software, according to the UK National Crime Agency. The NCA warns such behaviour could people money, compromise their privacy and in some cases, damage their reputation.
The announcement comes as the agency launches yet another awareness campaign which aims to educate the public on how to remain safe online.
“The internet is a great place to explore the world and do business, and the majority of people won’t experience any problems. But for the minority who leave themselves unprotected, not downloading and updating their security software can be very costly,” said Jamie Saunders, director of NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU).
“The cost to individuals not only hits their pockets but also their personal and family life, which is why it’s important that everyone takes steps to protect their computer, tablet and mobile.”
The latest campaign is being led by the NCCU in partnership with the government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign. However, unlike the previous, gentler efforts, this announcement puts the emphasis on the damage that cyber criminals could do.
The NCA says 40 percent of adult PC users occasionally skip on software updates, and this figure rises to 56 percent on mobile devices. Twenty-three percent of PC users said they sometimes download unknown files and click on unfamiliar links, and 19 percent of mobile users do the same. 13 percent occasionally turn off their security software for one reason or another.
The agency warns that as a result of such behaviour devices could be infected by malware, with nine percent of the affected users losing their work and personal files, six percent having goods bought in their name, five percent having problems with online shopping and one percent suffering damage to their reputation.
As part of the campaign, NCA even took to Buzzfeed, publishing a list of ‘10 Things Cyber Crooks Could Do To Your Computer… Without Touching It’. This organisation clearly doesn’t mess around.
The agency says in order to avoid malware it is important to install security software on tablets and smartphones, not just PCs. The applications and operating systems should be constantly updated, and the users shouldn’t open files or email attachments from an unknown source.
Members of the public are also advised to be careful when using external media such as USB drives and DVDs, buy legitimate software from established vendors and “download free software with caution”.
“It’s encouraging to see the government launching another initiative to help educate and protect consumers from cyber threats. The issue has steadily worked its way up the agenda and we’ve seen real action from policy makers in recent months,” commented Andrew Avanessian, VP of global professional services at Avecto.
“Many cyber attacks prey on user naivety, particularly phishing emails. That’s why education around the threats – coupled with basic security measures – can make a real difference for the average consumer. For instance, if the general public knew the importance of keeping their operating systems and applications up-to-date then we’d see the number of successful attacks drop dramatically.”
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