From Royal Mail scams to Apply Pay text scams, fraud warnings flood our news feeds every day. The UK cybersecurity unit tackled 2.7 million digital scams last year, which was almost four times more than in 2020. This is a staggering 40% increase compared to the global rate of 8%, suggesting UK cyber crime figures are much higher than in other developed countries.

But, who falls victim to cybercrime the most?

Intrigued, examined official ONS survey data from 33,735 people over the age of 16, to uncover the most common characteristics of fraud and computer misuse victims in the UK. With scammers on the rise, a cybersecurity expert’s tips on keeping personal details safe online were also obtained.

Individuals who fall victim to computer misuse possess these characteristics:

Contrary to popular belief that the elderly are more vulnerable to scams, online users aged between 25 to 34 years old (1.9%) are the most susceptible to cybercrime! This is 0.8% more than those between 65 to 74 years old (1.1%).

Those with higher social status are more likely to be the target of scammers, with 2.3% of victims being professionals or those at managerial levels. This is followed by students (1.8%) who tend to be avid digital users. Additionally, victims are most reported to be single (1.9%), while the widowed (0.5%) appear to be the least at risk of computer misuse.

Moreover, data also reveals that laptops (53.4%) are the most popular device targeted by cybercriminals, followed by desktop computers (31.9%) and mobile phones (7.9%).

Households who fall victim to computer misuse possess THESE characteristics: can reveal that cyber criminals seem to target adults with no children (1.6%) the most. The wealthy are also popular targets, with 2.7% of households earning £52,000 or more falling victim to cybercrime.

Residents in the East of England are the most at risk, with 2.4% admitting to being scammed online. This is 2% more than the North East (0.4%) and 1.4% more than the West Midlands (1%).

As online scams become increasingly sophisticated, Jon Dukes, head of IT at DVAD, offered guidance on how to keep personal details safe online:

Create memorable passwords and two-factor authentication wherever possible

It is now widely accepted that using complex passwords (a mixture of standard characters, numbers, and special characters) is not as useful as using four random words. This provides better password entropy whilst making it less likely that people will write down their passwords for others to find! Adding two-factor authentication to online accounts also adds an extra layer of protection by requesting information beyond just a username and password.

Always keep your devices updated

Every electronic device (tablet, mobile phone, laptop) uses a software operating system. These operating systems regularly release software updates to help keep your device protected from viruses, and should be installed as soon as possible. This is to prevent scammers from accessing your personal information through new malware developments.

Do not open unsolicited emails

Many fraudulent transactions start with a phishing email, so avoid opening any unexpected emails - even if they look trustworthy! Links within these emails should also be ignored as they can automatically infect your device with malware. Banks, insurance companies and government bodies will not send emails asking users to confirm any of their personal information.

Install anti-virus software

All your electronic devices should have up-to-date anti-virus software installed to prevent personal information from being stolen by scammers. Anti-virus software with additional anti-spyware capabilities will also further prevent unsolicited programs from tracking your online activity, and scanning your devices for personal information such as bank details.