Across the EU, Malta had the fourth-highest share of people who experienced security-related problems when using the internet in 2019, according to Eurostat.

The main issues the Maltese reported were receiving fraudulent messages (phishing) or being redirected to fake websites asking for personal information (pharming).

Within the EU, the highest rates of people reporting security issues were in Denmark (50%), France (46%), Sweden (45%), Malta and the Netherlands (both 42%). In contrast, the lowest shares were in Lithuania (7%), Poland (9%), Latvia (10%) and Bulgaria and Greece (both 13%).

According to Police Cyber Crimes Unit Inspector Timothy Zammit, the local findings could reflect a high level of awareness among Maltese internet users, since the users themselves are the ones flagging the security problems.

Still, as criminals continue to exploit advances in technology, it is of the utmost importance that efforts to raise awareness about safe internet use continue, he said.

Throughout 2019, the Malta Police Cyber Crime Unit delivered numerous crime prevention presentations to educators, parents, youths and children about safe internet use, he pointed out.

And the unit has been coordinating with international stakeholders such as Interpol and Europol to deliver awareness campaigns, he added.

Irrespective of the advancements in technology and defence mechanisms, Inspector Zammit cautions people to remain careful and vigilant about the risks involved in using the internet and has underlined the following tips:

Always question and verify any communications received which are requesting monies or asking for your personal details.

Consider suspicious email messages claiming to originate from large scale organisations which have been sent using free email accounts.

Users must be conscious of the repercussions of clicking on malicious links and downloading attachments contained in email messages they receive.

Using antivirus software and a firewall will also aid in the protection of one’s devices.

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