Brits worth £361bn to online fraudsters

Brits worth £361bn to online fraudsters

Internet users in the UK could lose as much as £10,077 per year as a result of online identity fraud, according to a YouGov survey for digital security firm VeriSign.

That's the average total sum of monetary assets available in the online accounts, including banking, gaming and shopping balances held by a UK Web user.

VeriSign says the research shows that Internet users are putting a collective £361 billion at risk by revealing personal data on Web sites that are not secure or are poorly protected.

The survey found that 65% of respondents share personal data with their online bank each week, 58% with Web retailers and 31% with social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.

"It's no surprise that online banks and retailers are some of the most popular targets for identity theft since so many personal details are required by users," says Jon Kerr, SSL manager, VeriSign UK. "As online transactions increase, we need to acknowledge the importance of both technology and consumer behaviour in protecting personal details and monetary assets online. With the average UK consumer worth over £10,000 to criminals, it's clear that each of us is a target."

According to the poll nearly half of respondents have experienced online ID fraud or know someone who has, while 78% say they are "worried" about ID theft.

Research released by e-payment outfit Cybersource earlier this year found that media coverage of cybercrime has changed the way Brits shop online and customers are now taking more security precautions when purchasing items via the Web.

Online security has also moved up the political agenda following a House of Lords report into personal Internet security which criticised a "laissez-faire attitude" towards Internet security displayed by a number of groups, including the government, ISPs and hardware and software vendors.

The report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee made a number of recommendations, including the introduction of a data security breach notification law to provide an incentive to banks and other companies trading online to improve the data security.

Other measures included the establishment of a centralised and automated system - administered by the police - for the reporting of Internet crime and the introduction of a security "kite mark" for Internet services.

However the government response to the report made no commitment to accept any of the major recommendations.

The Lords Committee is now conducting a follow up inquiry and is asking those who gave evidence in its inquiry - including financial organisations such as Apacs, The Financial Services Authority (FSA), Visa and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) - for their views on the government's response. These will be published in a short follow-up report in early summer.

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