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Four in ten Brits have had to change all their passwords to foil crooks

Also, teens warned that saucy pics may be re-used as porn

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A survey of over 3,000 Brits has discovered that more than half (56 per cent) have been targeted by online criminals with a successful attack costing, on average, £247 per person.

The study, released on Monday to coincide with the start of the annual Get Safe Online awareness week, discovered that almost one in five (17 per cent) victims were too embarrassed to tell anyone or share their experience with others. Almost a third of those surveyed by OnePoll (29 per cent) admitted they didn't know whether or not they were putting themselves at risk when they used the net.

GetSafeOnline.org is trying to encourage greater openness and discussion about online security problems via a "Click & Tell" online campaign and roadshow which will visit various UK cities this week (22-26 October). This year marks the seventh edition of GetSafeOnline, a campaign backed by the UK government and numerous internet security firms.

The GetSafeOnline.org survey showed that almost one in five (19 per cent) have lost money as a result of cyber criminals. An even greater number have suffered inconvenience as a result of online security attacks: almost half (40 per cent) of respondents were obliged to change all of their passwords and over one in 10 (15 per cent) had to replace their bank cards.

The survey tabulated the five most common online threats to UK surfers:

  1. Viruses (20 per cent)
  2. Email hackers  (18 per cent)
  3. Social media hackers (12 per cent)
  4. Fraudulent selling (12 per cent) – over one in 10 people have bought something online that never arrived
  5. Online credit card fraud (9 per cent)

The survey revealed that consumers frequently don't change their behaviour even after being affected by a security breach. Of those who experienced an attack, 65 per cent of laptop users and 75 per cent of smartphone users continued to use their kit in the same way.

Francis Maude, the UK Minister responsible for cyber security in the Cabinet Office, said: "The internet provides us with so many opportunities – for education, buying and selling online, communicating with work colleagues, friends and family alike. But unfortunately there are always those who will seek to take advantage of us when we are online going about our everyday business.

"Get Safe Online’s new research shows that people are still at risk. We all need to take steps to spread advice on how to help prevent this sort of thing happening in the first place. By following some very simple steps and precautions available through getsafeonline.org, we can continue to take advantage of all the benefits the Internet has to offer, safely and securely," he added.

Teenagers warned: stuff you upload online may re-appear elsewhere online

Separately, young people have been warned they might lose control over images and videos once they are uploaded online.

A study by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found that 88 per cent of self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people are lifted from their original location and uploaded onto other websites.

IWF analysts encountered more than 12,000 such images and videos spread over 68 websites. In many cases, parasitic pornographic websites are lifting photos and videos uploaded by teenagers onto social-networking sites. ®

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