UK consumers living in ‘cyber denial’ when it comes to online security

Significant numbers of UK consumers are failing to take the most basic online precautions according to new research from DAS UK Group, the UK’s leading legal expenses insurer, and HSB Engineering Insurance.

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14th May 2018

Although 88% of consumers claim to be confident when dealing with cyber security, they appear to be in ‘cyber denial’ with regards to protecting themselves. Nearly a quarter are failing to take even basic – and well-known – precautions such as using anti-virus software (23%) or ‘strong’ passwords (24%).

This is supported by other alarming statistics such as 34% not using different passwords on online accounts, 41% delaying before installing system updates, and, perhaps most surprisingly, 51% fail to regularly back-up their data.

As the activities of fraudsters become more diverse, online users must take every opportunity to safeguard their personal information from what are often sophisticated criminal activities.

James Henderson

The days of frantically scouring the keyboard to find the ‘Any’ key may have passed but there is also still widespread consternation when it comes to understanding some technology basics. Over half of consumers (54%) wouldn't know how to check a website is genuine, opening themselves up to fraud, or the 63% of consumers who did not know that banks are not required to refund money that is transferred to fraudsters.

The ‘DAS Market Barometer: Cyber’ identified consumers’ level of confidence and knowledge of cyber security, their top cyber security concerns, and the types of precautions they take to protect themselves against cyber risks.

In terms of cyber security concerns, 90% of consumers are concerned about at least one aspect of cyber security. In particular, three quarters (75%) are concerned about identify theft, loss of personal data, online fraud, and their devices being infected by virus or malware. Two thirds (66%) of consumers - mostly younger adults and heavy social media users - tend to be more concerned about losing personal data, files or photos.

With regards to data privacy and use of social media, 49% of surveyed consumers did not know that social media sites can retain various rights over things people post which also makes it hard to ever completely delete or remove your ‘digital footprint’.

James Henderson, Managing Director Insurance UK & Ireland, DAS UK Group, said: “Cyber security regularly hits the headlines, from malware attacks to the theft of personal and financial information.  Our research has shown that whilst it seems that people are aware of the issue, they are still not taking the most basic precautions to protect themselves from this very real threat.  As the activities of fraudsters become more diverse, online users must take every opportunity to safeguard their personal information from what are often sophisticated criminal activities.”

“We also undertook this research as part of our own cyber development journey because we really wanted to understand how consumer attitudes and behaviour might affect the appropriateness of any cyber insurance solution. Our hypothesis, forged in a concern about some of the ‘mass market’ cyber products that have been launched recently, is that there might be an emerging gap between understanding, attitude and behaviours - and the results of our research certainly support this.

“Mis-selling risk would be a too strong statement to use right now, but we have identified that the consumer behaviour we call ‘cyber denial’ has the potential to invalidate the cover of many cyber policies, so you can see the potential problem on the horizon.”

Stephen Worrall, Managing Director, HSB Engineering Insurance commented: “The drive for convenience in our everyday lives has undoubtedly increased our reliance on technology and, as a result, heightened our vulnerabilities to cyber security risks.  The research shows that people are concerned about the personal information they are sharing online but are less motivated when it comes to employing the basic precautions they need to take to protect their data from cyber security risks.”

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