We need to talk about cyber crime

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West Yorkshire Police is urging people to talk to family members about the potential dangers of cyber-related crime.

Cyber-related crime is an increasing problem nationwide and West Yorkshire Police is one of only a handful of forces across the country to have a unit set up specifically to tackle cyber crime. The team was created in 2015 after an investment from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson.

The team regularly provide and share advice about how to best stop criminals who look to use technology such as laptops, tablets and other internet enabled devices to commit traditional crime such as theft and fraud.

The force also developed and chairs the first Cyber IAG in the country. The IAG is an Independent Advisory Group made up of key partners from across the public, private and charitable sectors and the Force has worked with organisations within the group including West Yorkshire Trading Standards, Victim Support and Age UK to host live webchats about the issue and what can be done to guard against it.

But one of the best ways to help prevent cyber enabled crime is for people to follow some simple advice and to then share the advice with others who may not know as much about their cyber crime as others.

Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith leads the West Yorkshire Cyber Crime Team.

She said: "Cyber enabled and related crime is a growing threat - so many people have access to internet enabled devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

"Criminals are using these modern appliances to commit 'traditional' crimes with the computer rapidly becoming the new crowbar. I would like to reassure the public though that the vast majority of cyber crime can be prevented.

"Tips include creating strong and complex passwords, updating antivirus software and not clicking on unexpected emails from unknown sources.

"It is equally important however for people to talk about the crime and share our advice so everyone knows about it. The term 'cyber crime' is perhaps misleading as it can alienate people by making them think of the crime as something only a specialist can understand.

"But that isn't the case - so called cyber crime can affect almost everyone and that is why I am calling on people to pass the message on. I would particularly appeal to people who have more knowledge about cyber related crime to speak to family members and friends who perhaps don't have the same level of understanding.

"Some people presume that only elderly people need help and advice but that isn't the case. People of any age can potentially fall victim."

For more information about so called cyber crime visit https://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cyber

The Force is planning to host more live webchats with information about them posted on the Force website and social media channels.