Failing to protect yourself online is so irresponsible, it could threaten the economy of entire nations.
That's according to a security report by California-based group, McAfee, which suggests cybercrime is now such big business, it is worth more than the wealth of some countries.
As a business, cybercrime would be ranked 27th in the world based on revenue, and the crime is currently costing the world more than £328 billion ($500 billion) a year.
This is equal to more than 0.5 per cent of the world’s total gross domestic product, damaging the global economy almost as much as illegal drugs and piracy, according to ‘The Global Cost of Cybercrime’ report.
Security experts, including from EU law enforcement agency Europol and Nato, have been discussing the report, and what more needs to be done to stop the increasing amount of web attacks.
They claim the big problem remains a lack of understanding among the public about different threats that exist.
‘I’ve got young children, and I know that I can’t be there every time they cross the road,’ said Raj Samani, the chief technical officer of McAfee in Europe and a special adviser to Europol.
‘What I can do is teach them the dangers of crossing the road and hope that they can protect themselves. Technology does play a part, but the user plays a part as well.
‘[Last year] I went to a shopping centre, and there were people giving away chocolate in exchange for your personal data,’ he added.
‘The queue was 40 people deep. I said ‘why are you giving up your data for a piece of chocolate? Do you not realise it has more value?’
As part of the report, Samani revealed there are 20 to 30 cybercrime groups that are operating on a ‘nation-state level’.
This means they are working on an industrial scale, and overcome almost any sort of web defence they face.
‘We want the economy to grow, and it’s being held back by cybercrime.
‘If you’re not taking important measures you’re contributing to criminals, and I mean nasty criminals, making money off you. Not taking action is resulting in people losing their jobs,’ he said.
He added that ideas are the currency of the digital age and our ideas are being stolen.
‘Do you want the next Facebook to be out of London and Silicon Roundabout? It won’t be if we don’t protect our data because they’ll steal it and run it somewhere else,’ he said.
Operation Tovar, which disrupted the viruses that led to the National Crime Agency issuing a two-week alert last week, has been highlighted as an example of the sort of global collaboration that needs to occur more often.
Paul Gillen, from Europol, said that this operation, which involved officers from the U.S., the UK and around the world, was the perfect example of the collaboration that is needed to take on cyber criminals.
‘No single law enforcement agency can get an instant result on their own. We have to work in partnerships and Operation Tovar was a great example of this with the pooling of resources and ideas. This is not the end of the war however. The war goes on,’ he said.
The report found that more than 200,000 jobs had been lost as a result of cybercrime - through reputation damage or loss of assets.
The news comes in the wake of continued efforts to improve web security before the ‘two-week threat’ elapses, and two viruses that have infected thousands of computers are active again.
Potential victims can protect themselves but have only a short time to do so before the hackers - whose attempts have been temporarily thwarted - can rebuild their network.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security urged users to install anti-virus software on their computer and ensure that the latest operating systems were also installed on their computers.
If systems do not offer automatic updates, people should enable it, the department said.
It also advised changing passwords, as original passwords may have been compromised during the infection.