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Fraud and Risk Focus Blog

Why the Government needs to improve security on mobile devices and computers

9 October 2017

City of London Police estimate that 80% of all frauds and cybercrime can be stopped by consumers engaging in good cyber behaviours, such as securing our mobile devices and having stronger passwords.

The trouble is that not enough of us are listening to and following this advice.

Last year there were 3.4 million cases of fraud in the Crime Survey of England and Wales. This year alone, Cifas is seeing over 500 cases of identity fraud every day. Our figures also show nearly 9 in 10 identity frauds are cyber enabled in some way.

Given the ubiquity of digital devices and the shift to cyber-enabled fraud and scams, we need to do more to educate the public and ensure they have good digital security on their devices.

That is why at this year’s party conferences we are calling for government, industry and consumer groups to work together to produce Kitemark-certified advice on what good security on phones, tablets and PCs looks like.

The Kitemark should be easily identifiable by consumers so they know the device they are buying has security pre-installed, and that they are empowered to use it properly.  

We know that this is not the silver bullet to stop fraud – as consumers we can still be duped, and we will still have to patch our devices from time to time when new financial crime threats and trends arrive – but it is a crucial step in the right direction.

To underline this point, a survey commissioned by Equifax last year found a quarter of us change our passwords less than once a year. The survey also found that 55% of us use public Wi-Fi without password protection. We are all putting ourselves at risk. The rise in fraud will not stop unless we all change our cyber behaviours.

This is why a Kitemark must also be backed up by a co-ordinated education campaign focused on consumers.

None of this is easy, but all of us – industry, consumers, charities, consumer interest groups and the Government – need to step up to change behaviours and limit the cyber and fraud attacks on consumers.

Recent polling carried out by ComRes on behalf of Cifas shows that only 39% of the British public believe the Government is effectively tackling online fraud.

This figure clearly shows that the Government needs to do more to gain the public’s trust in their ability to tackle and prevent online fraud. A Government-backed Kitemark would be a positive step to show consumers that they recognise the severity of this problem and are taking proactive steps to help us help ourselves in staying secure.

This is not the only policy ask we are calling on Government and industry to implement at this year’s party conferences. Our next blog will focus on fraud education in schools. 

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