The Metropolitan Police has warned web users to be extra vigilant this Cyber Monday, reporting a 60 percent spike in cyber attacks over the past year.
The police also revealed that during the financial year 2012 to 2013 cyber and real-world fraud has cost the UK economy £81bn.
Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the increase is dangerous as it is far more difficult to track and arrest cyber criminals. "The web has provided consumers with an unprecedented opportunity to empty their wallets," he said.
"The unpalatable truth, however, is that as ever greater numbers of us have moved online to conduct our shopping, banking and an array of other financial activities, so fraudsters have identified an opportunity to empty people's wallets for them."
The Met statement urged web users to apply a set of basic cyber best practice policies when looking for deals online.
These include basic measures such as ensuring any machine used while deal-hunting is running up-to-date antivirus software, regularly installing new system patches, only shopping on a secure, as opposed to public, WiFi connections and only opening and clicking on links and messages sent from trusted sources.
The Met's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) detective chief inspector Jason Tunn said: "These are simple tips to keep safe while you shop online for your gifts for friends and family. The last thing anyone needs is for their details to be compromised by cyber criminals and online fraudsters – especially during the Christmas period."
The Metropolitan Police is one of many government and law enforcement agencies to urge web users to be extra cautious this holiday season. The UK government issued its own warning on Black Friday, revealing that its Action Fraud hotline received more than 10,000 reports about active cyber scams last year.
Combating cybercrime has been an ongoing goal of the UK government and is a central tenet of its Cyber Security Strategy. The Cyber Security Strategy was launched in 2011 when the UK government pledged to invest £650m to help bolster the nation's cyber defences.
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