IT expert Matthew Faulkner: How to protect yourself from cyber criminals

Matthew Faulkner from IT firm Taylor Made Computer Solutions
Matthew Faulkner from IT firm Taylor Made Computer Solutions
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WITH new figures showing that cyber crime cost the UK £11bn last year, we are urging businesses and individuals to be scam-savvy.

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly clever in the way they target their victims, but simple steps can be taken to protect data.

This week figures from Get Safe Online showed that victims of cyber crime in the UK lost on average £523 last year.

More than half of victims had received fraudulent e-mails or messages which attempted to direct them to websites where their personal information could have been stolen.

Just under 30 per cent said they had been contacted by someone who was trying to trick them into giving away personal information while a tenth had had their e-mail or social media accounts hacked.

But it’s not just individuals who are at risk from hackers. Businesses need to protect themselves too.

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly clever in the way they target their victims and many scam e-mails will look like they come from a company you buy from.

They may even look as if they are coming from a colleague asking you to transfer money to a client.

It’s easy to see in that situation, particularly if you work in accounts and the e-mail says it is from your managing director, how you can fall into the trap.

What’s worrying about the figures revealed this week is that they could be even higher.

The report from Get Safe Online (GSO) only takes into account incidents registered with the national reporting centre, Action Fraud.

More than a third of those who told GSO they had been victims of online crime admitted they hadn’t reported the incident – meaning the overall amount lost in the UK could be much higher.

We would advise anyone who gets a suspicious e-mail to treat it with caution and think carefully before handing over any personal information.

Companies will rarely ask you to resubmit payment information out of the blue via e-mail. So, if in doubt, call the customer service number they list online and check it out.

The tenth of people who had their e-mail or social media accounts hacked last year act as a stark reminder to keep your passwords safe.

Use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols and avoid using words relating to your name or interests. Avoid using the same password for multiple sites.

Report cyber crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Visit Taylor Made at tmcs.co.uk.

Matthew Faulkner is the technical director of Taylor Made Computer Solutions