A fifth of the British public feel more at risk of cybercrime and fraud since lockdown

New research from Ipsos MORI shows around a fifth of the British public feel more at risk of certain types of cybercrime and fraud since the Prime Minister announced lockdown due to the Coronavirus on 23 March.

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  • James Stannard Public Affairs
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New findings from Ipsos MORI shows around a fifth of the British public feel more at risk of certain types of cybercrime and fraud since the Prime Minister announced lockdown due to the Coronavirus on March 23rd. This includes feeling more at risk of buying counterfeit goods online, someone accessing their online accounts without permission and their devices being infected with computer viruses or other malware. Against a backdrop of uncertainty, half of the British public feel confident in the ability of the Government and its law enforcement agencies to protect them from fraud and cybercrime.

When it comes to feeling at risk of cybercrime and fraud, people feel most at risk of someone accessing their online accounts without permission (58%) and devices being infected with a computer virus or other malware (57%). But since the Prime Minister announced lockdown due to the Coronavirus on March 23rd a fifth of the British public feel more at risk of buying counterfeit goods online (22%), someone accessing their online accounts without permission (20%) or their devices being infected with computer viruses or other malware (19%).

Half of the British public have confidence in government and law enforcement agencies to protect them from fraud and cybercrime (52%). This differs by age with 18-24s (66%) and 25-34s (61%) the most likely to place confidence in the government and law enforcement agencies while those aged 65-75 the least likely (41% confident).

When asked about specific cyber-secure behaviours, one in four Britons (27%) say they have installed the latest software and app updates on their devices since the Prime Minister announced lockdown on 23rd March with a similar proportion saying they have checked if a company is genuine before sending a payment of information (26%). One in five have reported suspicious emails (21%) or updated any account password with a stronger alternative (21%). 

People aged 18-34 (36%) and those in social grade AB (34%) are more likely to have taken steps to be more cyber secure since lockdown was announced compared with older Britons. While the majority of people say they would have taken cyber secure steps regardless of the coronavirus lockdown, there are certain behaviours which are more likely to have been adopted as a direct result of feeling more at risk due to coronavirus, for example, updating account passwords with a stronger alternative (36%) or changing the password of a main email account to be strong and separate from all other accounts (33%).

One in five Britons (18%) say they have received emails, text messages or calls offering investment or money-making opportunities or senders callers impersonating a government department or other public service. Around one in eight (13%) have received emails, text messages or calls regarding the sales of face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) or coronavirus testing kits from unofficial sources.

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Public attitudes to the risk of cybercrime and fraud since lockdown was announced - Ipsos MORI

Confidence in Government to protect against cybercrime - Ipsos MORI

Commenting on the findings, James Stannard, Associate Director at Ipsos MORI, said:

Around half of the British public say they are confident in the government and law enforcement agencies to protect them from fraud and cybercrime but a sizeable chunk of the population is feeling more at risk since the PM announced lockdown in late March.  When it comes to specific risks, people are most concerned about their online accounts being accessed without permission or their devices being infected with viruses or malware. While around a third of people who have taken steps to be more cyber-secure say they have done so as direct result of feeling more at risk, it’s vital everyone does more to protect themselves from fraud and cybercrime, not just those who feel more vulnerable.

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,064 British adults aged 18-75. Interviews were conducted online from 12th June–15th June 2020. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

The author(s)

  • James Stannard Public Affairs

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