Senior police officers leading the fight against cyber crime in Yorkshire and the Humber have urged the public to take basic precautions after statistics revealed almost one in three people in the region had shared their passwords with someone else.
National crime survey results published this summer showed that an one in 10 people were now the victim of fraud and cyber crime, with an estimated two million computer misuse offences recorded in the past year.
It is vital, to do everything possible to protect yourself.Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith, of the Yorkshire and Humber regional cyber crime unit
But an Ipsos MORI poll found that most of people are still ignoring advice which could stop them falling foul of online scammers.
Only one in three people in our region said they were using a strong password made up of three random words, and 32 per cent admitted to sharing their passwords with other people.
The worrying statistics have prompted police to team up with the National Cyber Security Centre today to promote the #ThinkRandom campaign.
Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith, of the Yorkshire and Humber regional cyber crime unit, said: “So-called cyber crime can happen to anyone with a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone – and the impact can be devastating.
“Victims can lose large amounts of money but also treasured possessions such as family photos stored on their devices.
“It is vital, therefore, to do everything possible to protect yourself from criminals.”
Specialist officers investigating cyber crime have long warned that a weak password, which is easy for others to guess, can give criminals all they needs to unlock important online accounts.
Humberside Police’s cyber lead, Inspector Rich Osgerby, said: “By having a weak password, people are putting themselves at risk of being targeted by a host of online criminals. The same logic applies to the password to access your Wi-fi connection as it does to your emails. Criminals could access your bank account, use your money to purchase items online, hijack your identity and set up fake social media or online dating accounts.”
The National Cyber Security Centre said its research had shown that the best way to make a password both strong and memorable was to use three random words. It also advised using different passwords for the most important accounts – email, social media and online banking.
Detective Inspector Stephen Leach, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “It doesn’t matter what inspires people – it might be a night at the cinema, a sporting contest or favourite foods. The important element is making passwords random, using a different one for each site and never sharing your passwords.”
Today’s #ThinkRandom activity on social media ties in with the wider aims of Cyber Aware, a campaign funded by the National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP).
Since 2014 it has worked to provide individuals and smalls businesses with the knowledge needed to protect themselves from cyber criminals.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said: “Tackling cyber crime not only requires a concerted response from law enforcement and Government but also vigilance from members of the public. While the Government will invest £1.9bn in cyber security over the next years, we can all make a difference and protect ourselves from cyber crime by taking some very simple steps.”