Online Crime of Greater Concern than Burglary to UK Internet Users

UK internet users fear cyber crime more than traditional crimes such as car theft, mugging or burglary according to a new report. But as Internet activity, including online shopping and banking, continue to grow we explore ways of reducing the risk of cyber crime and look at providers of alternative methods of remaining active online.

The volume of internet users engaging in online retail and banking are increasing rapidly year on year. With the UK internet retail market set to command a cumulative turnover of an estimated £2 billion for 2006, the web represents the fastest growing medium for retailers in the UK. But as with any marketplace the criminal mind realises an opportunity when they see it and fear over online crime is of growing concern for people in the UK.

A new report from Get Safe Online (GSOL) suggests that more people in the UK fear Internet crime than traditional crimes such as burglary or muggings. Indeed, some 21% of the of the survey group highlighted internet crime as the highest area of risk – compared with 16% and 11% for burglary and mugging respectively. The 21% of those who fear internet crime most represents an increase from last year where the same question garnered a 17% response.

GSOL, as with other agencies involved in this area, state that awareness and preparation on the part of the internet user population are the most effective guard against the apparent risks of cyber crime. Even so, 50% of the people polled stated evident gaps in their knowledge about online safety, whist some 76% felt that it is the responsibility of government and big business to guard users and customers from the risks of online crime. Whilst it is clear that online retail businesses and bans are concerned with customer safety and are investing large capital to address the issue, it is important to be aware and take precautions against online crime.

Shopping online is rapidly becoming the norm. But internet search statistics show a wide variation in online retail user profiles. As the revenues from online retail show, many people are prepared to conduct credit and debit card transaction online, but a significant proportion of the population use the internet to compare products and prices, choosing to make purchases offline instead. Other business models, such as Loot use a classified style model allowing buyers and sellers of goods to connect online, but meeting in person to conclude any sale therefore eliminating the prospect of online crime, whilst capitalising on the benefits of the internet for locating and comparing products and services.

It is unlikely that the findings of the GSOL report will halt the seemingly rampant march of the online retail sector, but it does highlight the issue of internet crime and the reservations of a large proportion of the online community in the UK to contribute to such growth. Businesses who engage in an online business model are taking progressive steps to curtail the issue, but as long as there is money to be made, criminals will continue to exploit loopholes. It pays the individual user to take precautions and be aware of what to look for to minimise any risk, and for those who choose to abstain from online purchases, there are business out there who allow you to circumvent the risk altogether.

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