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The surprising demographic cyber criminals target – over 60s NOT the most at risk

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, which type of people are the most likely to fall victim to cyber crime?

Intrigued, examined official ONS survey data from 33,735 people over the age of 16, to uncover the most common characteristics of 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:

Age group % of computer misuse victims Occupation % of computer misuse victims Marital status % of computer misuse victims Hours out of home on an average weekday % of fraud victims
25-34 1.9 Managerial/professional occupations 2.3 Single 1.9 7 hours or longer 1.9
16-24 1.8 Full-time students 1.8 Cohabiting 1.8 3 hours or more but less than 7 hours 1.5
35-44 1.8 Intermediate occupations 1.4 Divorced 1.6 Less than 3 hours 1.1
55-64 1.8 Not classified 1.2 Married/civil partnered 1.5 ‘’ ‘’
45-54 1.4 Routine/manual occupations 0.9 Separated 1.4 ‘’ ‘’

For the full data breakdown, please click here [includes number of bar visits etc.]

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 cyber crime! This is 0.8% more than those between 65 to 74 years old (1.1%).

Those with higher social status are the most likely to be scammed, with 2.3% of victims being professionals and managers. This is followed by students (1.8%) who tend to be avid digital users. Additionally, people who are out of home for the longest hours (7 hours or more) are the most susceptible to fraud (7.4%) than those who leave home for only less than three hours per day (5.6%).

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:

Structure of household % of computer misuse victims Total household income % of computer misuse victims Region % of computer misuse victims
Adult(s) and no children 1.6 £52,000 or more 2.7 East 2.4
Adults and child(ren) 1.5 £41,600 to less than £52,000 1.9 South East 2.1
Single adult and child(ren) 1.5 £31,200 to less than £41,600 1.6 South West 1.9
£20,800 to less than £31,200 1.4 London 1.7
Less than £10,400 1.1 Yorkshire and The Humber 1.5 can reveal that cyber criminals seem to target adults with no children (1.6%) the most. Data also shows that East of England households are the most at risk, with 2.4% admitting to being scammed online. This is 2% more than in the North East and 1.4% more than in Wales (5.4%).

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.