Today is finally the day, Retailers are expecting a bumper Black Friday with companies competing to offer consumers the best deals in the run-up to Christmas.  

Amid the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdown restrictions this year’s event will be like no other with high street stores shut, meaning bargain hunters will be searching online for the biggest savings.  

But while spending your hard-earned cash online this weekend, it’s important to be careful with your details with cyber criminals eager to steal your data.  

A recent data breach report by Uswitch lists the United Kingdom as the fourth-largest data theft capital of the world with 206,433 data records stolen per 100,000 of the population. 

Malvern Gazette: The 20 countries affected most by data theft. Picture:UswitchThe 20 countries affected most by data theft. Picture:Uswitch

Cybercrime has seen a steady climb in 2020 with more people spending online throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.  

What data is most commonly stolen? 

  • Email addresses - 2.8% of data breaches 
  • Passwords - 2.3% of data breaches 
  • Usernames – 1.6% of data breaches 
  • IP addresses – 1.3% of data breaches 
  • Names – 1.1% of data breaches 
  • Dates of birth – 0.7% of data breaches 
  • Phone numbers – 0.6% of data breaches 
  • Physical addresses – 0.5% of data breaches 
  • Genders – 0.4% of data breaches 
  • Website activity – 0.4% of data breaches 

From physical addresses and security questions to sexual orientation and chat logs, if it is on the internet then there is a chance it could be stolen. Cybercriminals use your data to sell or extort, so it's not surprising that email addresses and passwords are the most compromised. 

Uswitch Limited is a UK-based price comparison service allowing consumers to compare prices on energy, personal finance, insurance and communication services and they’ve shared their top ten tips to keep your details safe online.  

How to keep details safe online 

  1. Make sure your home broadband is as safe and secure as possible, consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to keep your data protected 
  2.  
  3. Get some good-quality antivirus software for your internet-connected devices 
  4.  
  5. Use obscure passwords with various symbols, and always use a different password for each platform to help keep your private information safe 
  6.  
  7. Keep your software regularly updated, your network is more vulnerable when new patches haven’t been installed 
  8. Use two-step authentication where possible 
  9.  
  10. Always check companies security guidelines when asked for information, for example your bank would never ask you to confirm log-in details over email, phone or text message 
  11.  
  12. If using a shared device, protect confidential files and information saved from other users by deleting auto-fill details and logging off completely when you finish 
  13.  
  14. Backup your most important files to cloud storage or manually to a memory stick or external hard drive 
  15.  
  16. Be mindful of what devices you connect to your home network, and check their security settings (speakers, smart devices etc.) 
  17.  
  18. Keep only what you need. If sensitive information no longer has a use, then remove it from your devices to prevent it being stolen