Net alert: Ireland reports high rates of online crime as half of users affected by illegal activity

Half of Irish people have come across illegal activity on the internet, according to the latest European Commission barometer.

In 17 countries across the EU, scams, frauds, subscription traps or other illegal commercial practices were found to be the most common form of illegal content encountered.

In the other EU countries, hate speech or pirated content were more likely to be encountered.

Subscription traps are where a person signs up for a free trial, or low-cost offer, and then finds themselves locked in to high-cost repeat payments.

In a survey of all 28 member states in June, the vast majority of people across the EU agreed that arrangements need to be in place to limit the spread of illegal content on the Internet. Similarly, a large majority of respondents (85pc) agree freedom of expression needs to be protected online.

This comes at a time when criminals are using social media to check when customers are contacting banks about problems, and then posing as the bank in order to hack people’s data.

That’s according to the head of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau, who said gardaí have had multiple incidents of this activity reported to them.

Speaking at the Irish Independent’s Information Sec earlier this month, Detective Superintendent Michael Gubbins said cybercrime will become increasingly stealthy and hard to detect in the coming years.

He added that businesses need to educate their employees to be conscious of cybersecurity best practice.

“You’ve got to let them know what’s happening out there … it’s not all about technology or having the best IT equipment, because it doesn’t capture everything,” he said. “Co-operation among all relevant actors is key.”

Social engineering – using manipulation and deception in order to obtain the information being sought, like the example of calling people who have been interacting with banks online – remains “at the very top” of potential threats, he said.

Meanwhile less than half of the respondents in the EU (44pc) believe that internet hosting services – which allow organisations and people to have internet pages – are effective in tackling illegal content.

That being said, amongst respondents who notified the hosting service provider about illegal content that they had encountered, almost two in three said that they were satisfied with the response they received.

For content that has been flagged as illegal by the public or law enforcement agencies, 90pc agreed that internet-hosting services should immediately remove it, while a similar number agree internet hosting services should process all notifications they receive and assess the legality of the content.

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