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Government urges people to be more 'cyber streetwise' / 13.01.14

Consumers and businesses are encouraged to become more savvy about protecting their data online

Do you install internet security software on new equipment? Photo: GETTY IMAGES

By Sophie Curtis

The UK government has launched a campaign to encourage people to take safety precautions while shopping, banking or socialising online, in order to avoid falling victim to cyber criminals.

The ‘Cyber Streetwise’ campaign aims to change the way people view online safety and provide consumers and businesses with the skills and knowledge they need to take control of their cyber security. The campaign includes a new website offering a range of interactive resources and advice for staying safe online.

"The internet has radically changed the way we work and socialise. It has created a wealth of opportunities, but with these opportunities there are also threats," said security minister James Brokenshire.

"As a government we are taking the fight to cyber criminals wherever they are in the world. However, by taking a few simple steps while online the public can keep cyber criminals out and their information safe."

Advice includes using strong, memorable passwords, installing anti-virus software on new devices, checking privacy settings on social media, checking online retail sites are secure, and downloading software and application patches when prompted.

The ‘Cyber Streetwise’ campaign is part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme, and comes at a time when an increasing number of people use the web on laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Findings from the government’s most recent National Cyber Security Consumer Tracker suggest more than half the population are not taking simple actions to protect themselves online.

Only 44 per cent of the 22,762 consumers surveyed said they always install internet security software on new equipment, and 37 per cent download updates and patches for personal computers – falling to a fifth (21 per cent) for smartphones and mobile devices.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of those who admit to not installing security software on internet devices blame a lack of understanding, while around a fifth (18 per cent) say they did not realise the risk.

Initial funding for the campaign will be allocated from the government’s National Cyber Security Programme. Over 20 industry members are also providing support and investment, including Sophos, Facebook, Financial Fraud Action UK, RBS, Trend Micro and Vodafone.

Last month the Cabinet Office announced that companies that want to do business with the UK government will have to meet a new new cyber-security 'kitemark'. The kitemark is intended to stimulate the adoption of good cyber practices and help businesses better understand how to protect themselves.

The scheme forms part of a raft of measures intended to better prepare UK businesses against the growing threat of online attacks, which have been highlighted as one of the main security threats facing Britain.



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