Cyber-Crime Epidemic in the UK

Cyber-crime in the UK reached all-new peaks during the early stages of 2012, with more illegally obtained passwords and personal details having been traded than in the whole of 2010. The market for identity theft once again appears to be growing in size, strength and severity.

According to new research made public this week, no less than 12 million items of private data were traded illegally up to the end of April this year – far more than the cumulative figure for the whole of 2010. More worryingly still, at least 90% of all illegally traded data included usernames, passwords and other login details, so as to allow criminals to directly access bank accounts and other private resources.

Cyber-Crime Epidemic in the UK

40 Accounts Per User

The study suggests that UK residents hold on average around 26 different accounts on the web, when including loyalty schemes, bank accounts, email, social networking and so on. For those between the ages of 25 and 40, the national average goes up to a staggering 40 different online accounts. Nevertheless, at least 25% of all UK adults reuse identical usernames and passwords several times over – sometimes for each and every active account they hold – making it disturbingly easy for criminals to wreak havoc with their lives.

What’s more, even those who ensure that their passwords are unique and their login details changed on a regular basis are still at huge risk, as most are known to have important personal details stored online in the form of accounts and profiles they do not use anymore.

Huge Consequences

Cyber-crime and this kind of identity theft is something that is seldom looked upon with any degree of importance, until of course any given individual is personally affected by an attack. A staggering 9% of all adults in the UK who have had their details stolen have found enormous debts have been run up by those responsible, while others have had their credit reports destroyed and court proceedings started against them.

Criminals are also targeting larger pools of private online data than ever before, with networks belonging to Apple and LinkedIn having both been recently hacked – along with the Sony PlayStation Network which last year lost the details of no less than 70 million gamers.

A Growing Problem

Internet crime and identity theft is likely to prove one of the biggest problems facing the public over the coming years and one that sadly has no silver-bullet in terms of a resolution. However, those behind the study are once again calling for vigilance, as the overwhelming majority of attacks and incidents could have been staved off altogether with a little prior care and attention.

It can often be a simple case of using longer and more complicated usernames and passwords which cannot be guessed organically or are considerably more difficult to crack using software.

Inclusion of upper and lower-case letters along with numbers and symbols is highly recommended – just as long as you yourself can remember them.

Another hugely important piece of advice is that of keeping daily tabs on both credit reports and bank accounts, in order to see when and where anything suspicious may be taken place and thus be able to put a stop to it immediately.

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