Brits in dark about dark web, study shows

One in seven Brits have had personal data leaked in the past year but few can tell what the dark web is, according to new research.

An equivalent of over 7 million people in the UK had their data leaked in the past year, yet more than three quarters, or 77%, rarely, or never, check if their data was stolen or leaked, according to a study from the cybersecurity firm F-Secure.

While 80% of those surveyed for the study said that they had heard of the dark web, only one in three could accurately describe it as a part of the internet that can be accessed via specialist browsers – and which is used by cybercriminals to trade in stolen data.

The study also showed that less than a quarter of Britons were concerned about the risks of the dark web, and some “naively” believed they could remove data from it, according to F-Secure.

Another popular misconception includes a belief that the dark web is monitored and policed for data leaks, and more than a quarter of Britons said they would call the police if hacked, even though compromised data is not always a police matter.

Consumers were not taking their data security as seriously as other aspects of everyday life, and this disregard could have serious consequences, experts at F-Secure warned.

“Data leaks can happen to anyone, leading to identity theft, financial fraud, and other forms of cybercrime. This emphasizes the need for individuals to be proactive in safeguarding their data and understanding the steps they can take to mitigate risks,” Tom Gaffney, principal consultant at F-Secure, said.

Gaffney said people should follow three basic steps to mitigate the risks:

The research comes after a report from UK Finance showed over £1.2 billion, or $1.49 billion, was stolen by fraudsters in 2022, the equivalent of over £2,300, or $2,850 per minute.

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