ID theft overtakes financial theft online, survey reveals

Fraudsters have shifted from financial targets to stealing personal information, according to Verisign's Online Fraud Barometer research.

Fraudsters have shifted from financial targets to stealing personal information, according to Verisign's Online Fraud Barometer research.

The latest bi-annual survey of more than 2,000 UK internet users found that 11% have been a victim of online ID fraud in the past year.

But the survey also found a 12% decrease in the number of people suffering an immediate financial loss as a result of the online ID fraud.

According to VeriSign, this reflects an increase in e-mail or social networking cyber attacks.

"While online ID theft may not necessarily result in immediate financial loss, web users need to remember that fraudsters can farm e-mail and social networking sites for information which enables them to impersonate people online or sell that information to other cybercriminals," said Phil D'Angio, director at VeriSign.

Internet users need to remain vigilant at all times by reading a site's security policies, checking their privacy settings and looking out for security certificates, he said.

British shoppers remain cautious when it comes to handing over sensitive information on the web, the survey found.

Most respondents (82%) said they only ever use websites with enhanced security when making transactions or providing personal information online.

So-called 'silver surfers' are the most conscientious group, with 88% stating that they check the security credentials of a site before interacting with it.

The survey also found that Londoners are increasingly careless when buying online, with 20% stating that they do not make sure they only use websites that have enhanced security, representing a 2% increase over the past six months.

Tips to protect against ID theft

  • Use a personal firewall and anti-virus software.
  • Disconnect from the internet when you are not online.
  • Protect laptops with passwords.
  • Use two-factor authentication where possible.
  • Verify the website you are on is safe by checking the URL.
  • Avoid sites with obvious spelling errors.
  • Never send sensitive information such as passwords in e-mails.
  • Use only security-enabled wireless networks.

Read more on Identity and access management products

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