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Research published in June 2010 found that over 420,000 spam emails are sent to British computer users every hour.
The study, commissioned by life assistance firm CPP, discovered that UK citizens had been the target of some 3.7 billion phishing messages over the past 12 months.
The fraud attempts were often successful, with a quarter of respondents admitting to falling for them and losing an average of ¬£285 each. Some 55 per cent of phishing cases involved cyber-criminals pretending to be a familiar high street bank in order to obtain account details, passwords and other personal information.
More than half of all respondents also revealed that they had been sent bogus notifications of lottery wins or competition prize draw notifications via email. CPP stressed that computer users should beef up their security systems, given that online bank fraud increased by a staggering 132 per cent throughout the last 12 months.
The company’s identity fraud expert Nicole Sanders said: “It seems that not a day goes by without a new case of online fraud hitting the headlines. But what’s concerning is that consumers are still falling victim.”
She warned that cyber-criminals were becoming “ever more skilled” with their techniques and tactics, addeding: “It can be extremely difficult to spot a legitimate email from a scam, so we advise caution at all times when online.¬†Identities are as valuable to a thief as a credit card, so protecting personal details is key.”
CPP recommended that all businesses and IT workers should ensure that they have anti-phishing tools installed on their systems as well as anti-virus protection. They should also install active firewalls, which add updates and upgrades automatically.
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