Press release

Get Safe Online week

Get Safe Online week, 22 to 26 October 2012, helps raise awareness of online security and encourages safe, confident internet use.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

22 October 2012

Get Safe Online week, 22-26 October 2012 launches today, helping people to better understand the threat of online crime, raise awareness of internet security and encourage confident, safe use of the internet.

According to the latest Get Safe Online research, over half of people in the UK (56%) have been targeted by online criminals with a successful attack costing, on average, £247 per person.

Francis Maude, Minister for Cyber Security at the Cabinet Office said:

The Internet provides us with so many opportunities - for education, buying and selling online, communicating with work colleagues, friends and family alike. But unfortunately there are always those who will seek to take advantage of us when we are online going about our everyday business. Get Safe Online’s new research shows that people are still at risk. We all need to take steps to spread advice on how to help prevent this sort of thing happening in the first place. By following some very simple steps and precautions available through, we can continue to take advantage of all the benefits the Internet has to offer, safely and securely.

A survey of over 3,000 UK consumers, by not-for-profit organisation, today reveals these online attacks are leaving the nation red-faced with almost one in five (17%) admitting to being too embarrassed to tell anyone or share the experience with others.

The embarrassment to admit lack of knowledge about online safety may explain why almost a third of individuals (29%) claim to having no idea whether they are putting themselves at risk and a further 40% admit they really needed to know more about being safe online.

The survey showed that almost one in five (19%) have lost money as a result of cyber criminals. But online security breaches cause a huge inconvenience to daily life: over a third (38%) of respondents cited wasting a considerable amount of time trying to fix the problem, almost half (40%) of people have had to change all of their passwords and over one in ten (15%) had to replace their bank cards.

Top five most common consequences of an attack:

  1. Having to change all of your online passwords (40%)
  2. Wasting valuable time trying to fix the problem (38%)
  3. Losing money (19%)
  4. Left feeling red faced (17%)
  5. Replacing bank or credit cards (15%)

According to the survey the top five most common threats in the UK are:

  1. Viruses (20%) - a file that is written with the sole intention of doing harm, or for criminal activity on your smartphone, computer, tablet or laptop - is the most common type of threat
  2. Email hackers (18%) - almost one five people in the UK have had their email accounts targeted by hackers
  3. Social media hackers (12%) - more than one in 10 of us has had a social media account (like Facebook) targeted by hackers
  4. Fraudulent selling (12%) - over one in ten people have bought something online that never arrived
  5. Online credit card fraud (9%) - one in ten people have had their bank or credit card details stolen online

In spite of the number of attacks in the UK, the survey uncovered that it hasn’t changed people’s behavior. Of those who experienced an attack, 65% and 75% of people respectively continued to use their laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the same way. Despite a fifth of people having their social media accounts hacked, only half of respondents (50%) use the highest levels of security on the social networking site Facebook and one in 10 (11%) aren’t even aware that you can change your security settings.

To promote the week, a Get Safe Online bus will be visiting cities across the UK to spread the word about being secure whilst online. The theme for the Week is ‘Click and Tell’ and aims to encourage people to share hints and tips on how to stay safe online with friends, family and colleagues. The bus will be visting 5 cities across the UK on the following days:

  • Cardiff - Monday 22nd October
  • London - Tuesday 23rd October
  • Leeds - Wednesday 24th October
  • Edinburgh - Thursday 25th October
  • Belfast - Friday 26th October

Get Safe Online is the UK’s national internet security awareness initiative. A joint partnership between the Government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Ofcom and private sector sponsors from the worlds of technology, communication, retail and finance.

Further information about the Get Safe Online campaign

Published 22 October 2012