Crime is one of our biggest fears – and that doesn’t change when we log onto our computer or smartphone. Thankfully, cybercrime rarely ends in physical harm. But it can mean losing the contents of our bank balance or our deepest secrets being spilled. But how likely is that? And are things getting better or worse?
While crime figures are only just accounting for the jump in cybercrime, it’s my view that online banking, shopping and communication are now safer than they have ever been. For example, so-called two-step authentication where you confirm a log in with a code sent to your mobile is a big help, and only a minor inconvenience.
More and more sites now encourage us to come up with complex passwords and change them often.
Yes, it can be annoying. But we must think of protecting ourselves online in the same way we would in the real world. You wouldn’t leave your windows open when going on holiday.
As we all go online more or even for the first time – to buy our shopping, to bank or get car tax or travel insurance – the incentive for crooks grows so they are investing more and more in finding loopholes.
It means there are more potential victims – and in particular targets who are likely to slip up on security.
The good news is that with better and better security, if you avoid simple passwords and make use of extra security measures you will be fine.
Sure, crooks could hack into the computers of a well-known company that has your email and password – as happened with eBay in 2014.
They can then use these details to get into other accounts because many of us use the same login details across multiple accounts.
But there are two reasons not to worry overly.
Firstly, big hacks are less and less likely since firms are quickly becoming aware that the reputational damage can be crippling, so have upped security.
Second, if you follow the advice to have separate logins for all your accounts (which is admittedly annoying) then you avoid making yourself more vulnerable than you need to be.