Cybercrime prevention starts with education - MEP Miriam Dalli

EU must teach citizens to 'think before you click'

Miriam Dalli emphasised how important education is in preventing cybercrime.

Miriam Dalli emphasised how important education is in preventing cybercrime.

Building "unhackable" infrastructure to combat cybercrime is of little use unless European citizens are also taught to think before clicking when online, MEP Miriam Dalli said. 

The Maltese MEP called on the European Commission and EU member states to focus their efforts on educating people about the risks they faced online. 

"The matter is more urgent since a number of public services across the EU are now available online," she said. 

She argued that this was also an opportunity to train young ICT experts who can combat this phenomenon and such crimes of the future.

Dr Dalli was speaking during a European Parliament debate on international cooperation in the fight against cybercrime. 

READ: Cybercrime victims need help to protect themselves, says Dalli

Ranging from fraud to identity theft, extortion and ransomware, cybercrime is a growing international threat. A 2015 report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimated that cybercrimes cost the global economy upwards of US$500 billion that year. 

A recent Eurobarometer survey found respondents to be more concerned about online transactions, with the two most common concerns being the misuse of personal data and the security of online payments.

Malta's criminal code, personal data regulations and electronic communications networks and services regulations all contain provisions aimed at penalising such crimes. Malta is also a signatory to the Council of Europe Cybercrime Convention.

Five tips to protect yourself against cybercrime

1. Use strong passwords. 
Do not rely on an easy-to-guess phrase or combination, and do not use the same password for all online services. If you find it hard to remember different passwords, consider using a password manager service. 

2. Use up-to-date antivirus software
Prevent viruses and malware from infecting your computer using antivirus software - and don't forget to ensure it is updated daily.

3. Be mindful of WiFi hotspots
Free internet in public places is useful, but keep in mind that it is also less secure than using your own, private, connection. Avoid carrying out sensitive tasks, such as internet banking, while on such networks. 

4. When shopping online, look at the URL
If a website is asking for your credit card details, be sure that the website address begins with an 'https'. The 's' stands for secure, and should always be present when conducting an online transaction. 

5. Think before you click
If you receive a strange message or email from a friend which urges you to click on a link, think twice before doing so. Contact them separately and ask them to confirm that they genuinely sent you the email. Likewise, if you receive an email asking you to confirm your password, ignore it - a reputable company will never ask for your password. 

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