Security naivety forces NCA to debut online awareness campaign

The UK's National Crime Agency has formed a new partnership with the government's Cyber Streetwise campaign after new figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed that there were 10,731 adult victims of cyber-crime last year.

UK hacker breaches US Defences - faces 20 years
UK hacker breaches US Defences - faces 20 years

In a statement to the press published earlier today, the agency cited the ONS figures which show that four in ten UK adults do not always install security software on their new computers and mobile devices. Just over a third of adults (37 percent) said that they ‘occasionally' install new security software on new internet devices.

Approximately 37 percent of women and 29 percent of men are said to take risks online and – more surprisingly – this is the case for 41 percent for 18 to 44 year olds, a sign perhaps that today's generation Y and Z are less security-coconscious than first thought.

The agency urges UK adults to download and update their security software, be wary of opening files from websites or email senders they do not trust, and to be cautious using USB sticks and CDs. It adds that users should always use legitimate software. A sign that the NCA is trying to get its message across to everybody is that it has also provided a ‘top ten' list article on cyber-crime to Buzzfeed, the popular culture news website.

Jamie Saunders, the director of the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), said in a statement: “The internet is a great place to explore the world and do business, and the majority of people won't experience any problems. But for the minority who leave themselves unprotected, not downloading and updating their security software can be very costly. 

"The cost to individuals not only hits their pockets but also their personal and family life, which is why it's important that everyone takes steps to protect their computer, tablet and mobile.

“The NCA will continue its fight to cut serious and organised crime on the streets and online by pursuing criminals and protecting the public. But for this to be successful we all have to help ourselves too." The NCA recently led the take-down of the Shylock malware and, as a further illustration of the UK's cyber-crime capabilities, saw NCCU deputy Andy Archibald become appointed as ‘strategic lead' of the European Cybercrime Centre's new Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT).

The UK's Organised Crime Minister Karen Bradley added that cyber-crime now poses a ‘serious threat' to the UK, but says that the government is tackling the subject with its £850 million National Cyber Security Programme.

"The internet has radically changed the way we work and socialise, but cyber-crime now poses a serious threat to the UK, and the Government has taken action to transform the way we respond.”

Reacting to the news, Rob Cotton, CEO at global information assurance firm NCC Group, said that this new initiative shows that cyber security is becoming an ‘everyday imperative'.

"The NCA's awareness campaign again shows the high-level concerns within UK government about the risk to businesses and consumers,” he told SCMagazineUK.com. “As seen with Cyber Streetwise earlier in the year, cyber security is becoming an everyday imperative. 

“Statistics from the NCA show that malware via email-borne phishing and drive-by attacks are currently the biggest risks to the public. Its findings on the lax attitude from consumers regarding anti-virus software are interesting, although it's worth noting that while anti-virus is currently of little practical use on mobile devices, though it does still provide some limited value in traditional computing environments.

“It's quite clear awareness of the problem is growing across the board. That's not to say we should rest on our laurels though. It's still one of the biggest issues facing the modern world.

 “We believe that education, technological solutions and innovation will go hand-in-hand in order combat these threats in an effective manner. But make no mistake, we haven't reached the peak of this epidemic yet."