Three in five (58%) consumers in the UK have suffered a data breach in the last year, according to global cybersecurity company DynaRisk. From running approximately 760,758 data scans over the past 12 months, the company can reveal the extensive nature of data breaches across the world, but particularly the UK, which has experienced more breaches than the New Zealand, Canada and most of Europe.
According to the intelligence team at DynaRisk, consumers with BT email addresses have suffered the greatest number of breaches (72%) – compared with Hotmail (62%), Gmail (60%) and Yahoo (55%).
However, it was also revealed that through using cybersecurity tools and services, consumer cyber hygiene habits can be improved despite a greater number of breaches. DynaRisk’s Cyber Security Score assesses how safe an individual is online, based on several personal risk factors – much like a credit score. Based on analysis of over 1200 users, the average Cyber Security Score of consumers in the UK increased by 26% in the last 12 months, suggesting that users in the UK are taking more steps to protect their online information; displaying less personal ‘risk’ factors than previously. The new data also revealed that the average score for users in the UK is higher than that of the USA and other European countries, suggesting UK consumers are more proactive at improving their habits.
Andrew Martin, CEO, DynaRisk said, “At DynaRisk, we assess the digital behaviour of consumers and identify any potential security vulnerabilities; providing a score out of 999. It’s encouraging to see that the average score in the UK is now so high (800) and has increased by so much from this time last year. Consumers are clearly becoming more aware and more protective of their online information in the UK; and getting better at arming themselves against an ever-increasing number of cyber threats.
“But there is still a lot of room for improvement; particularly given that we’re seeing so many email addresses that have been compromised across some of the most popular providers. Every year, there are more and more victims of cybercrime as a direct result of increased cyber-attacks, breaches and leaked data. People should always be cautious when signing up to digital services using their email addresses and should take extra care to secure each account with complex, unique passwords and two-factor authentication where possible.
“This will reduce the risk of crimes such as credential stuffing and fraudulent activity taking place, as well as reduce the risk of being targeted for phishing scams. These scams are becoming incredibly sophisticated and difficult to spot, and usually become more common at specific times of the year like Christmas.
“Unfortunately, companies can never do enough to protect customer data, however, constant investment and training needs to be put in place by all companies to ensure customer information is as safe as it can be. All companies big and small now need to have cybersecurity at the top of the agenda. Naturally, this is especially crucial for social media and tech companies that possess and store large amounts of data. That said, it’s crucial for consumers to take a level of responsibility for their online personal security too.”
Staying safe online, what you need to do at a minimum
To reduce your risk online and enjoy services with peace of mind…
Use unique passwords and a password manager
It’s extremely important to use strong, unique passwords for every account you have online. A strong password is typically 8-12 characters long, has a mixture of upper- and lower-case characters, includes numbers and symbols and is completely random. Remembering a lot of different passwords is difficult, so services such as LastPass can be beneficial. It can also generate passwords if in need of inspiration.
Enable two-step verification
This adds an extra layer of security and makes account-takeovers far more difficult for hackers to carry out. After entering a password, a code (usually sent via SMS to a phone) will be required to access the account.
Educate yourself and learn more about your digital footprint
As demonstrated by this revelation, threats are constantly changing, so it’s important to stay up to date and understand what’s going on. When a breach becomes public knowledge, or you become aware of a potential vulnerability, it gives you an opportunity to check everything is ok and/or take necessary steps to protect yourself and your information. Our data footprints are huge – made bigger still when companies involve external suppliers and service providers. If the companies storing data follow best security practices and GDPR regulations, this shouldn’t pose an issue. However sadly, many companies leak data without even realising it.
Make sure your software is up to date
Finally, software updates on all devices are crucial. These usually contain fixes for any bugs discovered in the previous version. So, avoid putting this off and clicking the ‘remind me later’ options – update your software as soon as you are notified.