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New campaign urges people to be 'Cyber Streetwise'

A new campaign to change the way people protect themselves while shopping or banking online in order to avoid falling victim to cyber criminals has been launched by the government.

Cyber Streetwise logo
Cyber Streetwise logo

The ‘Cyber Streetwise’ campaign aims to change the way people view online safety and provide the public and businesses with the skills and knowledge they need to take control of their cybersecurity. The campaign includes a new easy-to-use website and online videos.

 With more than 11million internet-enabled devices received as gifts during the Christmas period2 ‘Cyber Streetwise’ will help in the fight against online criminals. People are encouraged to protect themselves and their families online by visiting the website for tips and advice

 The new website,, offers a range of interactive resources, tailoring an individual’s visit to provide clear advice on the essentials for enjoying a safe experience online.

 Security Minister James Brokenshire said:

 ‘The internet has radically changed the way we work and socialise. It has created a wealth of opportunities, but with these opportunities there are also threats. As a government we are taking the fight to cyber criminals wherever they are in the world.

 ‘However, by taking a few simple steps while online the public can keep cyber criminals out and their information safe. Cyber Streetwise is an innovative new campaign that will provide everyone with the knowledge and confidence to make simple and effective changes to stay safe online.’

Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley said:

"Cyber crime is a major issue, more money is lost through fraud and cyber crime than is lost through domestic burglary and it is important that cyber crime is tackled to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable who are often targeted in this type of crime. I am delighted to support Cyber Streetwise which is an important new campaign to help individuals and businesses increase their awareness of how to stay safe online."

 The launch of the campaign is part of the government’s National Cyber Security Programme1 and comes at a time as an increasing number of people use the web on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Findings from the government’s most recent National Cyber Security Consumer Tracker3 suggest more than half the population are not taking simple actions to protect themselves online.

 While 94 per cent of people believe it is their personal responsibility to ensure a safe internet experience, the research highlights:

•only 44 per cent always install internet security software on new equipment

•only 37 per cent download updates and patches for personal computers when prompted – falling even further to a fifth (21 per cent) for smartphones and mobile devices

•less than a third (30per cent) habitually use complex passwords to protect online accounts

•57 per cent do not always check websites are secure before making a purchase

The Cyber Streetwise campaign underlines that safety precautions taken in the real world have similar relevance in the virtual world. Research shows that shoppers do not adopt the same sort of wariness on the web as on a busy high street, for example, a person would not walk around with their bag open or wallet on show. When shopping online due to the speed of technology, people can also be open to unnecessary risk if they are not careful when using their credit card.

There are five actions people can take in order to protect themselves and others from cyber crime. The key behaviours the campaign is focussing on changing are:

1.using strong, memorable passwords

2.installing anti-virus software on new devices

3.checking privacy settings on social media safely online – always ensuring to check online retail sites are secure

5.downloading software and application patches when prompted

The research shows our biggest concerns when it comes to online safety are identity theft (48 per cent) and losing money (52 per cent). Sixteen per cent of people claim to have lost at least £500 as a result of having their card details stolen and used over the internet – a total loss of more than £4billion.

Almost a third (32 per cent) of those who admit to not installing security software on internet devices blame a lack of understanding, while around a fifth (18 per cent) say they did not realise the risk.

The Cyber Streetwise campaign, with initial funding allocated from the Government’s National Cyber Security Programme, has been joined by a number of private sector partners who are providing support and investment, including Sophos, Facebook, RBS Group, and Financial Fraud Action UK.