UK Politics

Don't scare people over cybersecurity, say MPs

Teenager using a PC
Image caption People should take "sensible precautions" while they are online, say MPs

The government should not "scare people" about the dangers of cybercrime but do more to make people aware of how they can protect themselves online, a group MPs has said.

The Commons Science and Technology Committee said malicious software - or "malware" - was a growing threat to the UK as more business was done online.

But it said most of the steps required to combat cyber attacks were "routine".

It has called for a TV ad campaign to raise awareness and less use of jargon.

Publishing a report into cybercrime and security, the cross-party committee said the internet was still a "reasonably safe place" as long as people took "sensible precautions".

'Best defence'

It said 80% of the steps needed to counter dangerous software such as malware - which is used to access and steal personal information such as bank details - could be regarded as "routine IT hygiene".

But it said public understanding about the risks involved in using the internet and the safeguards that could be taken must be increased and much of the existing advice was "often technical or jargon filled".

"Government departments need to realise that better public information about computer safety could save huge numbers of people the hassle of having their personal details stolen," said the committee's chairman, Labour MP Andrew Miller.

"Knowledge is the best defence against fear, so the government should focus on raising awareness of how to stay safe online - rather than scaring people about the dangers of cybercrime."

The government's Get Safe Online website needed to be better promoted, he added, and all PCs, mobile and other devices used to access the internet should be sold with advice on personal safety.

MPs are also seeking guarantees that as government services - including benefit claims - are increasingly delivered online, more is done to "engender greater trust in online products".

A website which aims to bring government services together under a single web address was launched on Wednesday for a public trial. The project, which is expected to launch in full later this year, has a budget of £1.7m.

Currently, online government services are spread across multiple domains and managed by different teams.

More on this story