UK consumers urged to stay safe online amid ‘increased international tensions’

UK and Commonwealth customers are urged to be more vigilant with their digital activity amid “increased international tensions”.

The warning came from James Cleverley, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth and Development (FCDO) in the United Kingdom, at a panel led by Get Safe Online, a non-profit organization.

The company, in collaboration with FCDO, conducted an online survey of more than 5,200 adults in February ahead of its Global 24 event.

The study found that more than nine out of ten adults across 22 Commonwealth countries do not know adult email passwords and access to personal and business email accounts is a top target for criminals and other malicious actors. Instead, bank accounts were classified as the most important login details for professional hackers, despite the abundance of personal information in our email accounts.

This year’s Global 24 Summit is a strategic conference with the participation of cybersecurity experts and local government stakeholders from 24 countries where GateSafe works online. Senior representatives from the Caribbean, Africa and the Pacific gathered to discuss key findings of the study and to share knowledge and practice among their citizens about the best ways to prevent online crime. The conference was inaugurated by His Excellency the British High Commissioner to Rwanda Omar Dyer, followed by a welcome video statement by the Right Honorable James Cleverly MP.

The results and outcomes of this Commonwealth-led conference will be collaborated in a Get Safe Online Global24 white paper that will be released later this month.

Particularly significant during the Global 24 event and research is the COVID-19 epidemic and the restrictions on working and learning at home that many nations have faced or are facing for the first time, as we are witnessing in the Pacific. With the rapid digital conversion of COVID-19, many more people around the world are now using PCs, laptops and other Internet-enabled devices for everyday work.

Online platforms and services use email as a way to provide protection and access to personal documents, certificates and other important information, from bank account details to membership. This is often complemented by two-factor authentication, where a user is asked to ensure access to a platform or portal through their email account.

So email accounts sit at the crossroads between the real and digital lives of many people. This means that they are a desirable target for cyber criminals and other malicious actors who try to hack, fish or scam people’s lives and bank accounts through their emails.

But despite the fact that email passwords serve as a gateway to a huge amount of personal information, only 7% of respondents think they are a top target. Instead, more than three-quarters (78%) of respondents said bank accounts were a top priority for hackers and 5% considered social media accounts a key target. The following case study provides an insight into the far-reaching damage that can be caused by fraudulent email access.

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