UK Police are advising people and businesses across the country to always download the latest software and app updates as soon as they are available, as they contain vital security upgrades, which protect devices from viruses and hackers.
2 million cybercrime offences
An estimated 2 million cybercrime offences were committed last year (according to ONS figures).
Advice from GCHQ’s cyber security arm, CESG recommends that software updates are the most effective action Britons can take to protect themselves online.
The Ipsos MORI research, also found that the majority of people thought they did not know a lot about the security benefits of downloading the latest software updates for computers (77%) or mobile phones (74%).
Emphasising the importance of software updates
Detective Superintendent Willie Cravens, Head of Police Scotland’s Cybercrime Unit, said: “Many people believe software updates are purely cosmetic, but this is not always the case. In many instances they also address security vulnerabilities in software, plugging gaps which hackers exploit to gain access to the general public’s devices, which range from smartphones and tablets to games consoles, desktop and laptop computers and, increasingly, ‘smart’ televisions which are essentially computers as well.
“The research also showed that one of the main reasons for people not downloading the latest software updates is that they think it takes too much time. I would urge anyone who has a device – and that is now most of the population – to take the time to do this, as the cost in time and monetary terms of trying to recover from such an attack on their device can be very considerable. In some cases, compromised devices may be made unusable and have to be replaced, so the importance of updating software cannot be emphasised enough.”
Making it difficult for hackers to obtain information
Temporary Detective Sergeant Dave Hull, from Surrey and Sussex Cyber Crime Unit, said: “We are working hard to prevent cybercrime in Sussex and we would urge all our residents and businesses to download the latest software updates from verified vendors to protect against viruses and hackers. Simple cyber security techniques such as this can make it extremely difficult for an attacker to obtain data or compromise systems.
“Software updates address security vulnerabilities and are designed to plug the gaps which hackers exploit to gain access. Anyone who goes online is a potential target and the consequences of not taking appropriate security steps could be potentially devastating to the reputation of companies and/or individuals and their financial future.”
Lynn Farrar, Chair of Neighbourhood Watch said, “We wholeheartedly support the #quickupdates campaign and we are urging everyone to download software updates on mobiles, laptops and computers as soon as they appear in order to protect against cybercrime. This is such a quick and easy way to protect yourself, your family and your community against hackers it makes sense to get into the habit of doing it as soon as you possibly can.”
UK government invests in cybersecurity
Cybercrime is a serious threat to the UK and the Government is taking action to increase public awareness of the risk. The government will invest £1.9 billion to significantly transform the UK’s cyber security. The National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP) will support the aims of the 2016 National Cyber Security Strategy over the next five years and reflects the importance the government places on robust cyber security for the UK. CESG, the cyber security arm of GCHQ, will become part of the National Cyber Security Centre later in 2016. In addition to providing guidance, the NCSC will actively protect the UK from a range of cyber threats and will co-ordinate responses to cyber security incidents.
The Cyber Streetwise campaign, funded by the NCSP, was launched in 2014 with the objective of providing the public and small businesses with the knowledge to take control of their cyber security and help protect themselves from cyber criminals.
To find out more, including how to set your device to that it automatically downloads the latest software updates visit https://www.cyberstreetwise.com/software-updates.
Edited from press release by Cecilia Rehn.