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Over 13,000 cases of social media and email hacking in 2020

social media

And those are just the ones that were reported. For many of us, social media and emails form an essential part of our online activity. Despite this, they are vulnerable to hacking by opportunistic cyber criminals looking to steal valuable information and/or money. analysed data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on 43 police forces/constabularies to establish which areas of England and Wales experienced the most social media and email hacking cases between January – December 2020. found that there were 13,343 cases of social media and email hacking recorded by 43 police forces from January to December 2020. During this period, April (1,449 cases) was the worst month, followed by May (1,358 cases). Whilst September saw the least number of cases at 870.

Additionally, from the 13,343 cases, the accumulative financial loss that victims suffered was an astronomical £3,573,079.

The Metropolitan Police had the highest amount of social media and email hacking cases between January – December 2020, at a shocking 2,357 reports, the equivalent of six incidents per day in the capital.

From the 2,357 cases in London, the collective financial loss victims suffered was £1.8 million – equivalent to £764 per case!

In second place were the West Midlands Police with 630 incidences of social media and email hacking reported in 2020. Victims who fell prey to the cybercrime in the West Midlands incurred an overall monetary downfall of £382,400.

Thames Valley Police are in third place as they received 547 reported cases of social media and email hacking from January to December 2020 and from those who were targeted, the financial loss equated to £43,400; that is comparable to a personal loss of £79 for each individual case.

West Yorkshire Police (539), Kent Police (529) and Greater Manchester Police (525) are among the other police forces which recorded over 500 cases of social media and email hacking from January to December 2020, respectively ranking in fourth, fifth and sixth place.

On the other end in 43rd position is City of London Police who had only 26 cases of social media and email hacking.

Slightly above City of London Police in 42nd spot is Dyfed-Powys Police, with the Welsh force reporting 95 incidences of social media and email hacking.

Despite having such a low sum of incidents, the amassed financial loss the 95 victims experienced was a sizeable £32,000 – equivalent to the average annual salary of a full-time worker in the UK! top tips on how best individuals can protect their social media and email accounts from hackers:

A strong password is essential

Don’t make life easy for hackers by having a basic password. You need to have a password that is hard to crack and to achieve this, you must use a combination of different characters to create a complex password that include uppercase letters, lowercase letters, special characters, and numbers. Also, try to regularly update your password – do so at least once every three months.

Opt-in for multi-factor authentication

Most social media and email companies now have multi-factor authentication to add an element of additional security.

Multi-factor authentication is where you must provide at least two pieces of personal information to verify your identity (i.e. username/password, plus security question or SMS/email ‘pin’ token) before gaining access to your full social media or email account.

Carefully assess third-party applications

It has become the norm for people to open new accounts by using their existing social media or email login credentials.

Understandably so, as ‘log in with Facebook/Google’ is much more convenient than going through the whole ‘create new account’ process but in doing so, be mindful what sensitive information you are agreeing to give third-party apps access to from your social media/email accounts.

To avoid this, take your time to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions before signing up.

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