Fraudsters are switching their focus from traditional bank card fraud to breaking into internet bank accounts. Last year, the number of “phishing” attacks - where criminals trick surfers into passing on their personal details on fake websites or e-mails - rose by 16 per cent. Losses from online banking fraud came close to £60 million.
The best ways to avoid becoming part of this year’s statistic are by staying vigilant and downloading good-quality security software. Luckily, there are lots of good-quality security options available to help keep your computer safe for free.
The first place to look is your bank. They may not be known for their generosity, but since banks lose millions from online fraud, many offer customers free security downloads to protect their PCs. Those who bank with Barclays can download Kaspersky Internet Security Suite - worth £49 - for free. Meanwhile Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, Alliance & Leicester and First Direct are amongst the institutions offering free downloads of Rapport, which encrypts sensitive data.
You can also download anti-virus packages from other sites. Microsoft offers Security Essentials, a well-regarded anti-virus package, free for anyone with a Windows computer. Other free offerings include Avira Antivir, Avast! 4.8 home edition and AVG Free.