Pay attention when swimming with SHARKS!
We all have those moments don’t we? The ones where we do things absent-mindedly without thinking at all about what we’re doing. Or where we’re thinking about something else and not concentrating properly on the main task in hand. And this is most likely to happen where the task in question is one we undertake frequently, and so we can perform it automatically, without needing to engage our conscious minds. Most of the time this probably won’t matter, but of course there are situations where it does – even if the task is a familiar one. If we’re driving a car, for example, or operating a piece of machinery, then it’s important that we are fully focused and present.
For many of us, being online is something we do all the time, to the point where it is completely routine and automatic. It’s just something we do. It’s not an activity that we’re likely to regard as particularly dangerous, or one requiring a great deal of focus and attention. Most of us would probably regard it as nowhere near as risky as driving a car. So the tendency is for us to approach it casually, and potentially absent-mindedly. Under these circumstances, people are far more likely to do things online without much thought about what we’re doing, and the potential consequences.
But in fact, being online is a bit like going swimming with sharks. Lurking in the cyber world is a myriad of dangerous predators, circling hungrily and ready to take advantage of us if our defences are down. Analysis has revealed that in the UK online fraud and Cyber crime are now the country’s most common criminal offences, accounting for almost half of all crime committed, with nearly 10 per cent of people falling victim to it. Similarly, research in Holland found that 8.5 per cent of all internet users over 12 years of age reported being victims of Cyber crime in 2018.
Given this level of threat, no-one can afford to be thoughtless and blasé about being online. We all need to be cautious and circumspect, and conscious of the potential dangers at all times. We should treat using a computer or mobile phone in much the same way as we would approach operating any other complex and potentially hazardous piece of equipment.
In reality, however, as things stand today, most of us remain far too relaxed about Cyber threats. For us to change our mindsets, and properly appreciate the real risks we are exposing ourselves to requires us all to raise our Cyber awareness to a much higher level. Because by being more aware, we are much more likely to think first before we click. Familiarity breeds contempt – but awareness leads to respect and appropriate caution.
Daily Telegraph, 19/01/17, ‘Fraud and cyber crime are now the country’s most common offences’ [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/19/fraud-cyber-crime-now-countrys-common-offences/
CBS, 24/07/19, ‘1.2 million cybercrime victims’ [https://www.cbs.nl/en-gb/news/2019/29/1-2-million-cybercrime-victims]