Covid-19 left people feeling vulnerable to cyber crime

Around 15 million people in the UK experienced cybercrime in the past 12 months, with a cumulative 64 million hours wasted dealing with the fallout

Almost half of Britons say they feel more vulnerable to cyber crime today than they did before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed, nearly 15 million people across the country say they have been a victim of cyber crime in the past 12 months, each spending an average of 4.4 hours trying to resolve issues and losing a collective £2.7bn.

This is according to NortonLifeLock’s 2021 Norton cyber safety insights report, which gathered responses from over 10,000 people in Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK and the US to establish current consumer attitudes to cyber security.

The researchers found that 74% of respondents from the UK believed the new culture of universal remote working had made it far easier for cyber criminals to take advantage of them, while 59% were more worried than before about becoming a victim of cyber crime, and 62% were concerned their identity would be stolen. Additionally, 46% said they weren’t sure how to protect themselves from cyber crime.

“As restrictions saw most Brits clocking up more time online than ever before, cyber criminals have taken advantage with coordinated attacks and convincing scams,” said Steve Wilson, sales and marketing director at NortonLifeLock.

“Cyber criminals have made millions from stealing people’s personal information and hard-earned money,” he said.

“The silver lining of the increased concern, is that many Britons (66%) say they are taking more precautions to stay safe online.”

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Beyond the impact to its victims’ time and finances, cyber crime also packs an emotional punch, the study said, with those who had had their accounts or devices broken into experiencing feelings of anger, stress, vulnerability, powerlessness and violation.

“The stress of cyber crime adds up over time,” said Wilson. “This is particularly true for identity theft. Victims of identity theft often suffer the consequences for years. For the two million Brits impacted by identity theft in the past 12 months alone, this means a lifetime of vigilance for suspicious activity on their accounts or against their name.”

NortonLifeLock said that Brits tend to exhibit overconfidence in their ability to protect themselves online, with 62% saying they were very worried their identity would be stolen, but 63% saying they felt well-protected. Over half said they would have no idea what to do if they did fall victim to identity theft, and three quarters said they wished they had more information on what to do.

Similarly, over half of respondents in the UK said they felt it impossible to protect their privacy online, and almost half said they wouldn’t know where to start, although on the upside, 84% of UK respondents said they had actively taken steps to improve their online privacy by hiding their online footprint, with many of those doing so due to changes to their lifestyle or working environment during the pandemic.

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