data protectBrits’ growing reliance on the internet is raising our likelihood becoming a victim of cyber-crime.

This is according to Karen Bradley, Home Office Minister for Serious and Organised Crime, who said in a speech to the IA14 Conference that while only 58% of British adults paid for goods and services online in 2008, in 2013 this figure rose to 72%. She also pointed to a recent survey that found the average family has six different devices that can connect to the internet, including TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

This wide-spread use of connected gadgets provides cyber-criminals with a “breadth of opportunity,” she added, describing these offenders as “highly-skilled,” “increasingly organised” and “numerous.”

Cyber-crime is one of the government’s top priorities, she said, calling it “up there with international terrorism.”

Mrs Bradley is not mistaken – many recent cyber-attacks have been brazen and have cost victims and the general public millions of pounds. For instance, in Antwerp last year, drug smugglers used online criminals to change cargo manifests so they could transport their products to the UK. When the security breach was discovered and a firewall was put up, the criminals actually broke into the property and installed key-loggers on the computers so they could continue their activities.

Pizza chain Domino’s saw its servers hacked not long ago, with criminals stealing over 600,000 customers’ data, including their names, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, delivery instructions and even their favourite pizzas. It is believed that the hackers blackmailed Domino’s to prevent this information being released, although it is not thought that anyone’s financial information was stolen.

Mrs Bradley said she wants to see Britain becoming one of the most secure online business environments in the world. She asked for specialists to share their knowledge so that businesses and individuals can protect themselves; after all, while there may be countless cyber-criminals, there are almost certainly even more talented professionals working tirelessly to improve people’s online security.

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