MORE than half of people in Edinburgh may have been targeted by online criminals, campaigners warned today.
A new survey by the Get Safe Online organisation found that 51 per cent of people in the Capital reported falling victim to a scam or a hack.
And successful attacks by cyber-criminals are said to cost an average of £175 per person.
While just 250 people were questioned for the survey, campaigners fear the results would be replicated across the city, with a third of people having no idea about internet security.
Viruses and email hacking were the most common form of cyber-crime experienced by people in Edinburgh, according to the survey.
Tony Neate, an ex-police officer who is now CEO of Get Safe Online, told the Evening News the group would be using the results as part of a new online safety drive.
“The message we are trying to spread is “Click and Tell” –go to our website, read some of our tips on online safety and then pass them on to other people. People need to be more aware of the steps they should be taking to protect themselves.”
Social media hacking was also a big problem for people in the Capital, with 12 per cent of people saying one of their accounts had been targeted.
However, only 56 per cent used the highest security setting on their Facebook account and almost one in ten did not know the settings could be changed.
Fraudulent selling is also a problem, with 11 per cent of those questioned having bought something online that never arrived, while eight per cent of people reported having had their bank or credit card details stolen online.
Mr Neate said: “Identity theft is a big problem and one thing that is making this threat even bigger is the growing number of people who use their phone to access the internet, without installing the proper safeguards.
“More than 50 per cent of people now use internet phones and most people just treat them like an accessory, when the consequences of them falling into the wrong hands or not having adequate protection installed could be extremely serious.”
Councillor Cammy Day, the council’s community safety leader, said: “Online crime can have a devastating effect and this initiative is a great way of keeping the public safe when it comes to using the internet.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and I would encourage people to visit the Get Safe Online tour bus when it comes to the Capital to find out more about how to prevent themselves becoming victims of cyber crime.”
The bus will be visiting Waverley Station, St James Shopping Centre and local schools and colleges. For more information visit getsafeonline.org.
The Nigerian millionaire: A wealthy Nigerian man emails you in a bid to get his vast family fortune out of the country. If you can help him out by paying legal fees, you get to share in his millions. But the money only ever goes out of your pocket.
The ILOVEYOU virus: Causing havoc in 2000, this was one of the widest spread viruses ever. People would receive an email from the address of someone they knew with “ILOVEYOU” as the subject line and an attachment claiming to be a love letter. If the attachment was clicked, the virus would damage files in the victim’s computer, then send itself to the top 50 addresses in the recipient’s Microsoft Outlook.
Tips to avoid being hacked
Do your research: If you are thinking of buying a product or signing up for online dating, do your research before parting with your card details to make sure they’re reputable.
Use a credit card: Paying by credit card offers better protection than with other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.
Stay secure: Before entering payment details check the link is secure. There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame (not the page itself), and the web address should being with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
Choose strong passwords: This is particularly important. Once you’ve got a good password make sure you look after it.
Keep protected: Make sure you have effective and updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software and your firewall running.
‘Virus must have slipped through’
MICHELLE Melrose, 40, a midwife who lives with her husband Richard and children Lewis, 11, and Rachel, seven, in the Park Grove area has been the victim of more than one type of cyber crime.
“A few years ago a virus got into my computer. I’m not sure how it happened as I had installed security software, but it must have slipped through somehow. It corrupted every single file and I had to pay someone £200 to salvage what they could from the hard drive, though we did lose some things. I’m even more careful since then. I installed even more advanced anti-virus software and I also do regular clean-ups on my computer, deleting things like tracking cookies at least once a week.
“I also once received an email which appeared to be from the Royal Bank of Scotland asking to update my account details. I thought it was a bit suspicious so I called them and it turned out to be a phishing scam. Your bank will never call or email you asking for personal details like your PIN. If you’re not sure about something, call your bank and check.
“When I moved house a few years ago the people who bought it ended up renting it out to another family, who then applied for a credit card using my name.
“Luckily, the bank they applied to was the same one I have my mortgage with, so they sent a letter to my real address congratulating me on being accepted.
“However, the police couldn’t prove the occupants of my old house were responsible, so no-one was ever punished.”