UK consumers in 'cyber denial'

UK consumers have little awareness of the importance of online security.

New research from legal expenses insurer DAS UK Group and HSB Engineering Insurance has found that UK consumers are living in ‘cyber denial’, with little awareness of the importance of online security.

While 88 per cent of respondents to the DAS Market Barometer: Cyber survey professed themselves to be confident when it comes to cyber security, many actually demonstrated significant gaps in knowledge, with 23 per cent not using anti-virus software, and 24 per cent not using ‘strong’ passwords (ie. something harder to hack than the name of their cat plus the year of their birth).

Thirty-four per cent, meanwhile, said that they do not use separate passwords for different online accounts, while 41 per cent do not regularly install system updates and 51 per cent do not regularly back up their data. Fifty-four per cent of respondents confessed that they would not know how to go about checking that a website is genuine, hugely increasing their risk of falling victim to fraud, and 63 per cent did not realise that banks are not legally bound to refund money that is transferred by a customer to a fraudster.

The DAS Market Barometer: Cyber did at least find that consumers are concerned about cyber security, with 90 per cent saying that they were worried about at least one aspect of the issue, and 75 per cent of these admitting concerns about identity theft, loss of their personal data, fraud and the infection of their devices by malware.

“Cyber security regularly hits the headlines, from malware attacks to the theft of personal and financial information,” said James Henderson, DAS UK Group’s Managing Director for Insurance, UK and Ireland. “Our research has shown that whilst it seems that people are aware of the issue, they are still not taking the most basic precautions to protect themselves from this very real threat. As the activities of fraudsters become more diverse, online users must take every opportunity to safeguard their personal information from what are often sophisticated criminal activities.”

Henderson went on to explain why the research was undertaken; “We really wanted to understand how consumer attitudes and behaviour might affect the appropriateness of any cyber insurance solution. Our hypothesis, forged in a concern about some of the ‘mass market’ cyber products that have been launched recently, is that there might be an emerging gap between understanding, attitude and behaviours – and the results of our research certainly support this. [We] have identified that the consumer behaviour we call ‘cyber denial’ has the potential to invalidate the cover of many cyber policies, so you can see the potential problem on the horizon.”