Social media hacking cost individuals £3.5 million in UK last year

Social Media

According to research carried out by across 43 police forces in England and Wales, social media hacking victims lost over £3.5 million in 2020.

Overall, there were 13,343 cases of social media and email hacking from January to December 2020. During this period, April (1,449 cases) was the worst month, followed by May (1,358 cases) while September saw the least number of cases at 870.

Not surprisingly, 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, the collective financial loss victims suffered was £1.8 million – equivalent to £764 per case.

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

Thames Valley Police was in third place receiving  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 – equivalent 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. 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 + 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.   


Chris Price
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