Warnings have been issued over the rapid growth of illegal trade in online personal data after figures were released showing that it registered a fourfold increase in the first six months of the year against the equivalent period in 2010 – reaching 20m items.
The practice describes the illicit trade in credit card numbers, passwords and bank account details amongst criminals as more and more of the population move online to pay bills and order goods.
Credit checking agency Experian found that three fifths of internet users leave a website by closing the window rather than logging out, whilst more than a quarter never look for the padlock symbol to verify that websites are secure.
Hackers engage in a brisk trade for personal data gleaned from careless browsers, earning as much as £18 for credit card details depending on the credit limit.
Experian’s managing director Peter Turner said: “It’s a wonderful life online, and it is now second nature to many of us. We’re more confident and more comfortable than ever but that also means that we can be complacent. When managing multiple online accounts, users need to protect themselves."