THOSE wanting to protect themselves from cyber criminals need to be aware of what they’ve posted online – and the apps and websites they sign up to.

Lee Stripe, a cyber protection officer based at Wiltshire Police HQ, said: “The key thing to do is to take an interest in your digital footprint. We love using technology, but we don’t take much interest in where our data’s going and what we’re signing up to. Have a read of the terms and conditions and what they’re getting access to.

“So, with apps – why would a calculator app want access to your contacts and camera.

“Go through what sites you’re signed up to, have you gone and reviewed the security settings on that site. A lot of settings are ‘on’ by default and unless we go in and take a look at how we’re exposing our data.”

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Mr Stripe said that as well as being aware of your security settings people needed to be mindful about the information people are sharing about themselves. That data can be used by criminals to help perpetrate scams.

“Everything we put out there can build a picture of who we are and what we do. If you don’t want something being known publicly, then obviously you shouldn’t post about it. If you do, then you lose control,” he said.

One of the most common scams aimed at individuals are sextortion emails. Previously, the phishing messages might have claimed the hackers had installed software on your computer, could see you had been visiting pornographic websites and they now wanted you to pay a ransom.

Now, they are becoming more sophisticated. Data breaches from websites like LinkedIn have given hackers passwords that can help give the emails a ring of truth.