Surfers still too careless with ID, says BT

Releases top tips for users to protect themselves from ID theft...

Releases top tips for users to protect themselves from ID theft...

BT has said UK web surfers are still doing too little to protect themselves against identity theft and has released a web user guide in an attempt to stop the problem escalating even further.

The 10-point guide has been put together by BT in association with CPP, LloydsTSB, the Met Police and Yahoo! as well as the Get Safe Online initiative.

Ray Stanton, head of security at BT Global Services, said identity theft is still on the rise, dubbing it a "silent part of fraud in the UK". Stanton cited figures from the UK government which suggest fraud accounted for £1.7bn in the UK last year. Although those figures have subsequently been subject to serious doubts, it's undeniable that identity theft is a major problem.

BT also claims that eight per cent of UK PC users fall victim to online fraud and said too few are taking even basic steps to protect themselves, such as not handing over credit card numbers to unidentified third parties.

Stanton added in a statement: "We want to make sure that people are aware of the threat and are protecting themselves online, so they can enjoy the benefits of the internet."

Detective chief superintendent Nigel Mawer, head of the Met Police Economic and Specialist Crime Unit, said: "Criminals are always looking for new ways to make money. Online identity theft and fraud are the latest techniques. By protecting themselves against the growing threat, users are also protecting others, so we urge everyone who uses the internet to follow the 10-point guide."

The 10-point plan

1. Keep your wits about you at all times
Understand the risks and operate on the internet as you do in the offline world, with caution and appropriate scepticism.

2. Question why a website is asking for information about you
Think about whether it is somewhere or someone you want to give your details to.

3. Never give any online security details to anyone unless it is completely necessary
Be particularly cautious if you share your accommodation with other people. Consider passwording your computer to avoid unnecessary access.

4. Look after your password
Change your passwords regularly and avoid standard passwords. Do not use the same password for every secure site you are registered with.

5. Never click on links in emails
Always type the website address for banks, financial institutions and retail sites into the browser.

6. Keep up-to-date
Keep your security software, operating system and applications up-to-date at all times.

7. Remove the spies
Check all files on every computer that is connected to the internet at least once a week using anti-spyware and adware applications.

8. Keep your connection secure
Make sure everyone who uses the computer understands the precautions they need to take when online. Do not leave your broadband connection switched on if you are not using it and if you use a wireless modem ensure you set it to use at least 128-bit encryption if you are registered for online banking.

9. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
Don't open emails or go to sites that claim you have won a prize, unless you've entered a specific competition.

10. Know where to go for help should you be a victim of online identity theft
There are wide range of organisations and groups that people can turn to for advice including the police, industry bodies and suppliers of online services.