Cyber Crime

Date published: 22 March 2023 10:51

What is cyber crime?

Today's online world is incredibly exciting, with advancements in digital technology opening up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and businesses in South Yorkshire and nationwide.

Unfortunately, the growth and evolution of the internet has also unlocked potential for criminal abuse. Cyber crime is a rapidly expanding area, where criminals seek to exploit human or security vulnerabilities to steal passwords, data or money.

As many cyber scams are committed by organised crime groups (OCGs) based abroad, it can be extremely challenging, if not impossible, to trace those responsible and recover any losses. This is why it is incredibly important for everybody to know how to spot the signs of cyber crime, to stay safe and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Please take note of the crime prevention advice below to reduce your chances of becoming the next victim. You can also download a free copy of the Little Book of Cyber Scams here - a handy booklet which raises awareness of some of the ever-evolving ways that cyber criminals will try to target victims.

If you think you have been the victim of cyber crime, it should be reported to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. Find out more here.

Protect your devices

  • Install reputable anti-virus software and turn on the firewall
  • Use the latest versions of software, apps and operating system on your devices
  • Make sure you keep a copy of all your important information by regularly backing it up
  • Use three random words for a strong password - e.g carpetcatkitchen - and use a different password for every account you have
  • Use a password manager to store all of your passwords securely
  • Turn on two-factor authentication on your online accounts - this is a free security feature that gives you an extra layer of protection online
  • Beware of scam emails. Signs that something isn't right include that is seems too good to be true, it's pressuring you into a quick response, it's requesting personal information, or there are spelling mistakes. Do not click on any links or attachments or reply. Forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk and forward text message scams to 7726

Social networking

  • Set your account to 'private' and approve what you get tagged in
  • Don’t add or accept ‘friend’ requests from people you don’t know. Not everyone is necessarily who they say they are
  • Remember what goes online, stays online. Don’t say or publish anything you may later regret
  • Be very cautious about posting identifying information about yourself or your family, for example your mother’s maiden name, as it could be used to identify your security passwords
  • Question any requests for money or personal details and contact the person via a different method just to double check it is genuine
  • Make sure any recovery contact details are up to date
  • Click here for guidance on recovering an hacked account

Online finance and shopping

  • Always use common sense - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Look for "https://" and the padlock image in the web address. This means the connection and your information is secured, but it's not a guarantee the shop itself is legitimate
  • Do your own research. Read online reviews of the company and its products to check for customer satisfaction and if it is legitimate
  • Use secure payment options such as PayPal or credit card
  • Be aware that sponsored links at the top or side of search pages pay to be there. These are not always reliable and can be used by criminals
  • Remember banks and financial institutions do not send emails asking you to verify your bank details by clicking on a link. Do not trust such emails, no matter how authentic they appear. Contact your bank using a trusted method that you have used before e.g. the number on the back of your bank card
  • Only fill in the mandatory details of forms when making a purchase. Only create an account if necessary or to save you effort if you’re going to use that site a lot in the future. You can usually checkout as a guest

Safeguarding children

  • Get to know your child’s online habits. Knowing the sites they go to, the people they meet there and what they do will help to keep them safe
  • Stay alert to any sudden changes in mood or appearance, or to any major change in habits or increased secretiveness. These are often tell-tale signs that something is not right
  • Keep lines of communication open - tell your child they can always talk to you or another trusted adult, such as a teacher, if they do end up in some sort of trouble on the internet
  • Make children aware there are things on the internet which may distress them
  • Spend some time on the internet yourself. The more that you know about the internet, the better able you are, in turn, to help your child navigate around it without coming to any harm
  • Install internet-filtering software showing a Child Safety Online Kitemark on your computer. These have been independently tested to provide a simple and effective means of support to parents, helping to ensure that a child’s online experience is a safe one

Useful Cyber Protect links

Get Safe Online - The UK's leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP) - If you have been a victim of sexual online abuse or you're worried this is happening to someone you know, let CEOP know safely and securely

Thinkuknow - The education programme from NCA-CEOP, a UK organisation which protects children both online and offline.

Action Fraud - The national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre

National Cyber Security Centre - Helping to make the UK the safest place to live and work online

North East Business Resilience Centre - A non-profit organisation helping protect businesses in North East England (including South Yorkshire) from cyber crime

Social media checklist – A handy SYP document giving tips for staying safe on social media

Video guides - Mini guides to phishing, ransomware, smishing, and vishing


Cyber choices

Many teenagers and young people have very impressive skills when it comes to all things cyber – so it’s really important that we encourage and support them to use these talents in a positive way.

Unfortunately, increasing numbers of youngsters across the country are getting involved in cyber crime. Many are doing so for fun, for example hacking into a friend’s computer, or kicking somebody offline while playing online games. They may not realise that what they are doing is illegal – and the penalties can be severe.

The Cyber Choices network was created to help people make informed choices and to use their cyber skills in a legal way. This is a national initiative, co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and delivered locally by partners including South Yorkshire Police.

The aims of the Cyber Choices programme are to:

  • Educate people about the Computer Misuse Act 1990 and the possible consequences of breaking the law
  • Encourage individuals to make informed choices about their use of technology
  • Deter and/or divert individuals from cyber crime
  • Promote legal and ethical cyber opportunities

There is a massive opportunity for young people to work towards becoming cyber security professionals, earning a great reputation and a big pay packet.

If you have a concern about anybody you feel might be involved in cyber crime and you need some help and advice, or if you would like a presentation raising awareness of Cyber Choices for students and staff, then please email Cyber_and_Digital_Team@southyorks.pnn.police.uk.

If you would like to make a referral for advice and support about a young person who may be involved in cyber crime, this can be done here.


Useful Cyber Choices links

NCA Cyber Choices - The Cyber Choices website

CMA chart - Overview of the Computer Misuse Act 1990

Education pack - Cyber Prevent education pack for teachers

Parent pack - Cyber Prevent guide for parents

YHROCU referral - Details on how to make a referral for advice and support about a young person who may be involved in cyber crime.

Report cyber crime

Anyone can fall victim to fraud or cyber crime. If you think you’ve been a victim, please report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can contact them on textphone 0300 123 2050.

Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, which takes crime reports from victims and provides a crime reference number. Action Fraud provides a single place for victims of fraud and cyber crime to report to, or get advice on protecting themselves.


If you are a small to medium business, charity, community group or school and want a free cyber awareness session then please feel free to get in touch with SYP's Cyber Protect team by emailing Cyber_and_Digital_Team@southyorks.pnn.police.uk.