Cyber Security Awareness Month: It's time to disarm cyber crooks’ secret weapon—shame

F-Secure offers Cybersecurity Awareness Month guidance to help loved ones avoid scams, identity theft and the worst consequences of data breaches.

Helsinki, Finland – October 11, 2022: F-Secure offers Cybersecurity Awareness Month guidance to help loved ones avoid scams, identity theft and the worst consequences of data breaches.

 Online security and privacy risks have never been so obvious, but too many face them alone. F-Secure, a global leader in cyber security experiences, encourages everyone to use this Cybersecurity Awareness Month to reach out to loved ones and take on the secret weapon that gives cyber criminals far too much power over our lives—shame.

F-Secure research finds that more than six out of ten internet users, 61%, at least somewhat agree that they increasingly worry about their online security privacy even when nothing is wrong.*

“We do so many intimate things on our devices that even thinking about the risks can make us feel too vulnerable,” says Tom Gaffney, Security Advisor at F-Secure. “And when we fall for scams—especially scams that involve our personal finances and love lives—it’s easy to be paralyzed by the humiliation.”

Nearly five out of ten victims, 45%, of online romance scams over the age of 50 never report the con to the authorities or anyone, a survey of UK internet users conducted for F-Secure finds.* *

“Suffering alone keeps you from getting the advice you need to keep your data from being used against you,” Gaffney says. “Luckily, we can all take steps right now to reduce worries, secure our identities, and help our loved ones who have been victimized by cyber crime.”


Avoid romance scams with open dialogue

Online dating is now the most popular way to meet a romantic partner.*** But that doesn’t mean that everyone feels comfortable swiping for love.

“If you went through adolescence before the dawn of online dating sites and apps, dating digitally may just never feel natural to you,” says Gaffney. “And for those reluctant to even admit they’re seeking a partner online, imagine how embarrassed they may feel if they’ve been swindled by someone who posed as potential match.”

More than two million people over the age of 50 in the UK have had, or currently have, an online dating profile – but for many, it’s shrouded in secrecy. Less than half (45%) of those dating online would tell their family.

Gaffney offers some basic advice he would share with anyone you know is single, whether the potential dater admits to dating online or not:

·       Look out for “love bombing” – or anyone who seems too interested too fast. Criminals want to move fast, so don’t let yourself be pressured.

·       Hold off on sharing any potential personally identifiable information – such as your birthdate, address, account numbers -- and be wary of anyone who seeks it.

·       Always communicate via video before wasting time on a potential match – it’s not fool-proof but video is the best way to verify that a person’s online identity matches an actual identity.


Normalize talking about online security

“Normalcy bias”, the human brain’s tendency to downplay threats, gives cyber criminals an advantage in all forms of online fraud and crime.

An F-Secure survey found that 65% of internet users at least ‘somewhat agree’ that they only think about online security and privacy if something is wrong, or they suspect something is wrong.

Gaffney suggests the reluctance to address online concerns until a problem is unavoidable gives cyber criminals more opportunities to victimize consumers.

“Talking to loved ones about what they can do to secure their identities now will help reduce the consequences of any future breach,” he says.”

Gaffney recommends some basic tips to protect their personal data that anyone can follow:

·       Make sure you have a long, strong unique password for all your accounts—especially your email account.

·       Enable multifactor (a.k.a. 2-factor) authentication wherever available.

·       Sign up for a service to monitor your email address and your mobile number to let you know if your accounts and passwords have been involved in a breach.

F-Secure’s ID THEFT CHECKER lets you monitor your email address for free.


Take the shock out of breaches to reduce risks

Unfortunately, all the personal online security precautions in the world cannot secure the information you share with a third party.

“Anyone who uses the internet like a normal human being is eventually going to have one of the services they use breached, if the breach hasn’t happened already,” says Gaffney. “That’s why you need to talk to your loved ones about what you should do when you find out your information has been leaked.”

The basic steps Gaffney tells his friends and family who have been involved in a breach include:

·       Change that password and any password that uses some variation of that password.

·       Check your cards and delete any cards stored on the compromised accounts.

·       Monitor your financial accounts to identify and report any suspicious use.

“You don’t need to change all your passwords all the time, as some experts have recommended,” Gaffney says. “However, a breach requires a new password for that account, and any other account that uses that password. Using a password manager will help you make sure that you never reuse passwords and thus never have to worry about one breach compromising multiple accounts.”

Find more information on how to prevent identity theft, steps to take following a data breach and how to use a password manager, visit the F-Secure blog.

* Source: F-Secure Consumer Survey Wave 4 (2021), nine countries (USA, UK, Germany, France, Brazil, The Netherlands, Mexico, Sweden, Japan), sample size 800/country, total 7200 respondents.
** Source: Findoutnow survey conducted for F-Secure, UK, September 2022, sample size of 1,956 respondents over 50

About F-Secure

F-Secure makes every digital moment more secure, for everyone. We deliver brilliantly simple, frictionless security experiences that make life easier for the tens of millions of people we protect and our 170 service provider partners. For more than 30 years, we’ve led the cyber security industry, inspired by a pioneering spirit born out of a shared commitment to do better by working together. | |

F-Secure media relations

Sanna Syrjäläinen

PR Manager, Nordics

+358 408349277

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