The under 25s are now more than twice as likely to be snared by online ‘phishing’ scams than baby boomers; according to research produced for this year’s Get Safe Online Week. More than one in ten youngsters aged 18 to 24 (11pc) has fallen victim to ‘phishing’ scams – where fraudsters access personal details though online communication – compared to just one in 20 (5pc) of over 55s, according to the report from Get Safe Online, a UK source of information on online safety.
Despite claiming to be very digitally aware, millennials and Gen Z cybercrime victims also lose far more money in the attacks, averaging £613.22 compared with £214.70 for the older generation.
In a survey commissioned by Get Safe Online, most people (38pc) believed that hackers were likely to be young. The same number believed they were targeted by a large international hacking organisation and almost a quarter (23pc) thought that advanced technical skills are needed to carry out a phishing attack.
This could be why over one in ten (12pc) millennials don’t believe that the older generation has the skills to phish, and almost the same number (9pc) believe it’s ‘only old people’ who fall for phishing scams. The research also looked at the frequency of phishing, revealing that almost two thirds (64pc) of people have received a phishing email within the last year, and near one in five (19pc) within the last month, as cyber gangs step up activity. One in ten (10pc) has been targeted upwards of ten times.
The report showed the most common phishing con is a fake email claiming to be from a bank or other financial firm, asking for consumers to change or verify their log-in details. Half (51pc) received this type of email, followed by 33pc who were sent an email from a company asking them to update log-ins or provide account details.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: “There’s a common misconception that as ‘digital natives’ younger people are savvier and safer online. However, as our report shows, this isn’t the case. When it comes to staying safe from cyberscammers, older may actually mean wiser. So to help youngsters gets safe online, we trained a team of Scammer Nanas to show just how easy it is to phish for information and carry out such a cruel and life-impacting crime. We hope our nana scam gang will make young Brits think twice before handing over their information.”
Andrew Martin, CEO and founder at DynaRisk, said: “In our ‘always on’ culture, millennials often feel so comfortable using mobile devices and surfing the net that it’s all too easy for them to become complacent and drop their guard. There also remains a lingering belief that cybercriminals prefer to target older generations because they typically have more money, but that’s just no longer the case. In truth, hackers don’t care about your background or situation – £100 is the same whoever it comes from!
“As younger generations sign up to more online services and platforms, it increases their personal risk.”
And Tim Ayling Director EMEA, Fraud and Risk Intelligence at RSA Security, said: “For a millennial in particular, £600 is a lot of money, and it’s sad to hear that hackers are targeting vulnerable targets like this, but it’s the reality we live in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me that fraudsters have turned their attentions to the younger generation – under 25s spend so much of their time online, leaving a trail of personal information behind them, with little or no regard to security or privacy. Cybercriminals are adept at following this trail of breadcrumbs back to their target, and ruthless when it comes to using this information against them for financial gain. Young and old alike, the British public needs to have greater awareness of phishing attacks, and take better care to protect themselves online. Our advice would be, first and foremost, to be suspicious – don’t just take every message at face value. It is always helpful to keep an updated record of contact numbers, emails and social media account details for close friends and family, so that if there is a situation where they are asking for money or details, you can call to confirm that this is a legitimate request.”