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Northern Ireland public warned over online security after £13m stolen by cyber criminals

By Sophie Inge

Published 18/10/2016

A whopping £13m was lost through cyber crime in Northern Ireland last year, police have revealed. File image
A whopping £13m was lost through cyber crime in Northern Ireland last year, police have revealed. File image

A whopping £13m was lost through cyber crime in Northern Ireland last year, police have revealed.

Yet, almost a quarter of people are unaware of the risks they face online.

A survey commissioned by the PSNI to mark Get Safe Online Day today found that 22% of people here said they had a limited understanding of cyber crime.

However, the survey also revealed that 94% said they were somewhat, or very concerned, about their online safety and security.

The same number of people also said they felt that online crime was just as damaging, or more damaging, than physical crime.

Half of those who had been a victim of cyber crime said they felt the matter was too trivial to report. In addition, 53% said they felt there was nothing that could be done.

The survey comes as it was revealed that over £13m was lost by people in Northern Ireland through cyber crime in 2015, with over half of crime having a cyber footprint.

Detective Chief Inspector Dougie Grant from the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre said: "The Police Service of Northern Ireland deals with more than 300 requests a month relating to cyber incidents.

"One in 10 people will be victims of a cyber crime. Nine out of 10 large organisations have reported suffering a cyber breach."

To raise awareness of the dangers of cyber crime, the PSNI has partnered with internet safety organisation Get Safe Online (GSO), which is this week running public events across Northern Ireland.

GSO chief executive Tony Neate said: "We are delighted to be in Northern Ireland this week, working with our partners and providing advice and assistance on a broad range of issues, including keeping children safe, protecting devices, shopping, finance, social media, business and fraud.

"The fact that Northern Ireland lost £13m to cyber criminals, and the UK lost nearly £11bn last year, is frightening, and highlights the need for each and every one of us to make sure we are taking our online safety seriously.

"It's clear from our survey that people are very concerned, and rightly so."

Mr Neate described the fact that over half of people felt there was nothing they could do as "alarming".

"It seems there is still a big education job to do," he added.

"Let's not let cyber criminals get away with it anymore, by ensuring that each and every one of us is updating the operating systems of our various devices and ensuring security software is always updated.

"What's more, we all need to ensure that we have a different password for each online account we own and website we visit. Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines."

The online safety events will take place at Victoria Square in Belfast on Thursday, Foyleside shopping centre in Londonderry on Friday and at Sprucefield outside Lisburn on Saturday.

During the sessions, visitors will be able to have their phones, tablets and laptops checked for malware and their email addresses scanned for security compromise.

Visitors will also get the chance to take a spin in a Formula 1 race simulator, provided by GSO's online security partners Kaspersky.

Admission to the events is free at Victoria Square, 10.30am to 8.30pm on Thursday, at Foyleside from 12pm to 7pm on Friday and Sprucefield from 10am to 6pm on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph

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