UK government declares war on cyber-criminals

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Millions of U.K. internet users are putting themselves at risk of attack from internet criminals because they don’t understand threats to their computer or the ways to protect against them, a newly created government-backed campaign has warned.

According to the Get Safe Online campaign, launched today in London to raise public awareness of the dangers of cybercrime, over three quarters of the UK's population (83 per cent) do not know enough about protecting themselves online.

The campaign is a joint initiative between the U.K. Government, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, part of the National Crime Squad and private sector sponsors from the worlds of technology, retail and finance, including: BT, Dell, eBay, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Microsoft, MessageLabs, and

The Get Safe Online Report reveals the extent of public uncertainty in the UK, where the online retail economy is worth £10bn a year and 14m use online banking. In fact 42 per cent of the population relies solely on friends and family for online safety advice rather than finding expert information for themselves, the research warned.

To help the public educate themselves, the Get Safe Online campaign aims to raise public awareness of the issues and provide solutions through a new website that offers up-to-date information about online safety, John Hutton, cabinet minister responsible for e-Government, said: "The internet has become an essential tool for businesses and consumers, and has brought enormous benefits to our everyday lives, but we all know there are risks too. That's why we're running the Get Safe Online campaign to make the internet a safer place to make financial transactions and exchange personal information. It's a challenge that I believe will be achieved by this collaboration between public and private sectors we've created. I'm delighted with the support the Campaign has already received."

Sharon Lemon, head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit added: "Increasingly we are seeing organised criminals turning to the Internet as a vehicle for their criminality. And as more of us are connecting to the Internet to shop, bank and communicate, we need to make sure that we do so as safely as possible. Get Safe Online gives the public the information they need to protect themselves."

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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