Half of Europeans overlook basic online security
by Daniel Mason
Many Europeans fail to take basic precautions to protect themselves online – such as regularly changing passwords – despite widespread concern about the escalating threat from cybercrime, according to a survey.
The Eurobarometer poll, published today, showed that 12 per cent of internet users have experienced online fraud and 8 per cent have been victims of identity theft. A large majority, 74 per cent, said they thought the risks from cybercrime had increased over the last year.
But while 89 per cent said they avoided disclosing personal information, 53 per cent had not changed any of their passwords in the last 12 months – and just one quarter said they used different passwords for different websites.
Meanwhile, only 51 per cent had installed anti-virus software on their computers, and just 43 per cent said they did not open emails from people they did not know.
Cecilia Malmström, European home affairs commissioner, said it was "surprising" that only about half of internet users had taken effective measures to protect themselves.
The survey questioned almost 27,000 European Union citizens in March 2012. While 29 per cent said they did not use the internet at all, 53 per cent said they used it at least once a day – mostly from home but also at work, school and university, and via smartphones.
About half of European internet users shop and bank online and use social networks, while 20 per cent sell goods or services on the web. When shopping or banking, the main worries cited were that data might be stolen or misused, and the security of online payments.
More generally among internet users, 61 per cent listed identity theft as among their main concerns, 51 per cent were worried about accidentally finding child pornography, 49 per cent highlighted online fraud, and 48 per cent said they were concerned about scam emails.
More than half, 59 per cent, said they did not feel well informed about the risks of cybercrime. Malmström said: "Cyber criminals must not be allowed to disrupt our use of the internet. The more we know about the risks and how to protect ourselves, the more we can truly maximise our digital lives."
It is estimated that more than one million people worldwide are victims of cybercrime every day. In March the European Commission said it would set up a European Cybercrime Centre within Europol in The Hague. It is due to be operational next January.
And along with the commission, the European External Action Service – led by foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton – is preparing a European Strategy for Cyber Security, involving public authorities and the private sector.
A quarter of workers unaware of phishing threat
Phishing attacks have caused some of the biggest data breaches in recent years, costing companies millions – but still some 27 per cent of office workers do not know what it is and need training, writes Scott Greaux
I've had online access to my bank account for quite a few years now. My bank has never asked me to change my passwords. Indeed, I was talking to one of their techno-security wallahs a while back and in the course of our conversation I suggested that he took the view that if the customer could access the account, so could a fraudster. "Yup," he replied.
Mike Killingworth - London, UK