Cyber threat underestimated despite risks as high as burglary, survey shows


The threats posed by cyber attacks are still greatly underestimated by the majority of Britons, new research from BT claims.

The telecoms giant found that 60% believe they are more likely to be the victim of a physical break-in than of a cyber crime despite figures suggesting the two are just as likely.

Cyber attacks have affected customers of TalkTalk, the Post Office, video site Dailymotion and Yahoo among others this year.

However, BT Security's research found that just 10% of those surveyed thought their WiFi or smartphone could be the most likely source of a crime.

Commander Chris Greany from City of London Police said the statistics did not support this idea.

"The Crime Survey of England and Wales showed that people are much more likely to be a victim of digital crimes in the UK, with almost half of all crime now either fraud or cyber crime," he said.

"Just as people protect their home from burglary, so they also need to protect their digital presence. Many broadband and telephone providers now offer free security solutions and we strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of these to ensure they are protected against the less visible dangers online and over the phone."

But BT's research claims few are proactive when it comes to securing their devices, with 40% of 16-to-24-year-olds admitting they use the same password across different devices and accounts, something cyber experts say is one of the most common ways hackers can breach an account.

Mark Hughes, BT Security's chief executive, said: "People must ensure that they are protecting themselves and their family from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats such as phishing emails, malware and inappropriate web content."

Nick Viney, from Intel Security, said: "The reality is that digital crimes are thriving. Recent research from Intel Security showed that stolen credit and debit card data can be bought and sold for between £13 and £23 in the UK alone.

"Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly clever and it's important that we stay one step ahead of the cyber criminals - caution is the best way forward here."