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Good cybersecurity habits still lacking despite greater device use, report says

Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent
·2-min read

Digital activities such as online shopping and video calling friends have skyrocketed in popularity over the last year, but many people are still not following basic cybersecurity practices.

That is according to a new report on digital safety by online security firm McAfee.

The company’s 2021 Consumer Security Mindset report found that 79% of those who have taken up online banking would continue using it post-lockdown, while 60% who discovered social media and 56% of those now using online food deliveries said they plan to continue the habit.

But the report warns that despite this increase in online presence, many users have gaps in their digital knowledge – more than half of those asked (56%) said they had not used any cybersecurity solutions last year, and 65% said they had never considered the value of their data being stored online.

This lack of security practices is despite many being concerned by the idea of cyber attacks, McAfee said, with the report finding that 57% said they are worried about breaches, with 62% saying there were fearful of having their banking details stolen.

Younger users were found to be particularly careless in this sense, the research said, with more than a quarter (28%) of 18 to 34-year-olds admitting they have never checked to see if the software on their device was up-to-date, the highest number of any age group.

In contrast, those aged 55 to 74 were found to be the most security-conscious, with 52% saying they always make sure their devices are up to date.

Terry Hicks, executive vice president of McAfee’s consumer business, said: “The first step in protecting ourselves is realising that there’s a lot we can do to stay safe online and to preserve our digital wellness.

“Yet, there’s a long way to go for British consumers.

“It’s important to remember that we can always work on our own safe online habits – from the apps we install, to the websites we click on, to the emails we open.

“Making this shift in our mindset and behaviours is a necessity in protecting what we value most – our privacy and identity – giving Brits much needed peace of mind as they continue their digital adoption.”

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a number of warnings during the pandemic about cybersecurity risks as millions of people spend more time at home and therefore online on their devices.

In its own advice, McAfee encourages users to activate security features such as multi-factor authentication and to exercise caution when using public WiFi connections.