Guest blog by Leo Clarke Consulting

In the digital age, cyber security has become a household term. With the increasing dependence on technology, both in personal and professional spaces, the threat of cyber attacks has grown exponentially. In the corporate world, data breaches can do significant and even irreparable damage to a firm’s reputation. In fact, 60% of small businesses are forced to close within six months after being hacked. 

While most people exclusively associate cyber security with businesses and government agencies, the truth is, it’s equally important for individuals to get to grips with the ever-present threats it can pose. Although criminals may target certain groups that are deemed to be more vulnerable than others, everyone who uses digital tools is vulnerable to modern cyber threats. Here are three compelling reasons why cyber security awareness is crucial for everyone.

The increasing prevalence of cyber crime

The first reason to take cyber security seriously is the sheer prevalence of cyber crime. A few decades ago, the threats weren’t as severe, and criminals were far less sophisticated in their methods of stealing personal data. However, by 2025, estimates suggest that the worldwide cost of cybercrime will total $10.5 trillion (approx. £8.3 trillion) – that’s a rise of more than $7 trillion (approx. £5.5 trillion) since 2015, showing just how the threats are growing increasingly prominent. This includes everything from identity theft and phishing scams to large-scale data breaches. Anyone using the internet can fall victim to these crimes, making cyber security awareness essential for all.

Safeguarding your finances

It’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking criminals will exclusively target huge corporations with the most money to lose. Cyber crime can have devastating impacts on individuals as well, posing a significant threat to your financial security. When personal data is leaked and gets into the wrong hands, individuals can fall victim to identity theft, financial losses and reputational damage. 

According to the most recent statistics, 69,000 cases of identity theft were reported in the UK in a single year. These instances can be prevented, or at least minimised, by practising good cyber security habits like creating strong, unique passwords, being cautious about sharing personal information online, and regularly updating your software. People without this understanding will naturally be more vulnerable to crime, which is why it’s so important to make educational resources more accessible to everyone, not just the most digitally savvy. 

Social responsibility in protecting larger networks

Perhaps one of the less obvious reasons why cyber security awareness is important for everyone is that individuals play a key role in protecting larger networks. Many major data breaches occur because of human error – a phishing email is clicked on, a weak password is cracked, or sensitive information is accidentally disclosed. In fact, one report found that 90% of data breaches that occurred in 2019 were caused by human error. Just like a physical virus, digital data breaches and scams can easily be spread across larger networks due to the actions of an individual. 

Not only are we protecting ourselves when we become more aware of cyber security threats, we’re also helping to look after the wider community who could be affected by our own actions online. By becoming more aware of cyber security practices, individuals can help to protect their workplaces, schools, and other networks they’re part of.

Knowledge is power 

While the world of cyber security might seem daunting, it’s important to remember that everyone has a role to play in combating cyber crime. By becoming more cyber security aware, you can protect yourself and contribute to a safer digital world. Remember, knowledge is power – and in this case, it can also be your best defence.