Cybercriminal attacks hit more than 9 million UK web users: Researchers find 8% have suffered financial losses Older people least likely to be successfully targeted
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) More than 9 million adults in Britain have had online accounts hacked and 8% of the population say they have lost money in the past year because of cybercrime, according to a survey by university researchers.
Cyber security experts at the University of Kent said it was "quite shocking" that 2.3% of the population reported losing more than pounds 10,000 to online fraudsters.
The survey found that 18.3% of those questioned had experienced attempts to break into one or more of their online accounts, including email, online banking, gaming and social media. One third said it had happened more than once.
The researchers found that people aged 55 to 64 were least likely to be successfully targeted by online criminals. The figure for this group was 11.4%, the study said, which may be because they are more cautious or spend less time online, have fewer activities and accounts or maintain better security. More than one in four people aged 18 to 24 (27.3%) has suffered a hacking attack.
When asked how much money they had lost in the past year "due to any kind of computer criminal activity," 92% said they had lost nothing, but 3.2% of more than 1,500 respondents said they had lost between pounds 1 and pounds 100, 2.4% suffered a hit of between pounds 101 and pounds 10,000 and 2.3% claimed to have lost more than pounds 10,000.
Estimates of the financial impact of cybercrime vary. In 2011, a UK government report said the overall cost to the economy was pounds 27bn a year, with identity theft accounting for pounds 1.7bn and online scams and ripoffs a further pounds 1.4bn. The report found that the main loser was British business, which took a pounds 21bn hit, suffering high levels of intellectual property theft and industrial espionage.
Reuters reported this month that the social media revolution had changed the way cybercriminals operated. It said a computer virus used to steal credit card data had been modified to create bogus Instagram "likes" that could be used to generate buzz for a company or individual. These fake "likes" were sold in batches of 1,000 on internet hacker forums.
According to RSA, the security division of US-based technology firm EMC, 1,000 Instagram "followers" could be bought for $15 (pounds 9.50), and 1,000 Instagram "likes" cost $30 (pounds 19), whereas 1,000 credit card numbers cost as little as $6 (pounds 3.80).
"It seems online crime has a clear impact on the lives of average UK citizens, with their accounts and credentials being compromised significantly and in some cases multiple times," said Dr Julio Hernandez-Castro and Dr Eerke Boiten, from the University of Kent's Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security Research.
"Cybercrime may not yet have hit a large proportion of the British public, but successful attacks do tend to lead to substantive financial damage," Boiten said.
The proportion of people aged 18 to 24 who told University of Kent experts they had been hacked by online criminals
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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