Online Safety Warning Amid Cyber Threat

18 November 2015, 14:12 | Updated: 18 November 2015, 14:17

Scots are being urged to take action to protect themselves online amid an "unprecedented'' rate of cyber crime.

The Scottish Government has launched a strategy aimed at helping businesses, organisations and individuals stay safe while using the web.

It highlights the importance of simple steps such as creating strong passwords, keeping software up to date, turning on firewall settings, installing anti-virus software and using mobile screen locks and passwords.

A recent survey of 1,000 adults in Scotland found one in 10 had experienced unauthorised use of their personal data while 7% had experienced abusive or threatening behaviour online.

At the same time, just one in 12 claim to regularly install software updates, fewer than one in 10 password-protect their mobile devices and only 13% check that a website is secure before divulging information.

The strategy, launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the National Economic Forum in Edinburgh, states: "We are now experiencing cyber crime at an unprecedented rate.

"Every day we hear of new online vulnerabilities, attacks and incidents affecting parts of Scottish society - from individuals through to large organisations.

"Cyber crime is also under-reported. As a result, the scale of the problem is difficult to grasp and at the moment we do not have a full understanding of the complex risks that cyber crime presents to Scotland.''

The document highlights the need for more research on cyber resilience in Scotland, including the cost of cyber crime.

Mr Swinney said: "Individuals and businesses increasingly rely on online connectivity and thanks to widening trade partners, more innovation and greater competition, this is helping to grow our economy.

"Cyber-attacks can happen to any individual or organisation no matter of size or geography.

"It has been estimated that as much as 80% of cyber-crime can be prevented by getting the cyber basics right such as updating software, good passwords and regular system back-ups.

"We have a responsibility to ensure people in Scotland are educated and empowered to exploit digital opportunities for their personal and professional development whilst having the skills to protect themselves from harm and exploitation online. This strategy is the first step in achieving that goal.''