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Cyber-crime is a fast growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.

What is Cyber-Crime?

Cyber-crime falls into two different categories:

  • Cyber-enabled crime – traditional crimes committed using the internet such as theft, harassment, fraud, identity theft, selling stolen goods, drug dealing.
  • Cyber-dependent crime - online crimes where a digital system is the target. These include attacks on computer systems to disrupt IT infrastructures, such as; unauthorised access (hacking), malicious software programming (malware) or denial of service attacks.

If you think your business, school or local community would benefit from a cyber-crime prevention presentation please contact Dorset Police's Cyber-Crime Prevention Officer by emailing

Top tips to avoid becoming a victim of cyber-crime

  • Don’t click on links from unsolicited emails
  • Only click links if you are certain they are safe
  • Delete and block spam or junk emails
  • Be careful when opening attachments or using internet downloads
  • Use different passwords for all your online accounts
  • Ensure passwords are random and strong – aim for at least 10 characters, which include numbers and letters, both upper and lower case. Why not use a few words from a memorable song?
  • Password managers are available which can assist with remembering all your different passwords
  • Different website = different password

For more password information visit:

  • Install anti-virus software and keep it up to date
  • Make sure you don’t have 2 anti-virus software programs
  • Ensure your device software and security firewall is kept updated
  • Always ensure you are running the latest version of your chosen browser and any plug-ins are updated (e.g. Flash, Java, Silverlight).

Follow this link for more information about protecting your computer.

Follow this link for more information about protecting your smartphone or tablet. 

  • Don’t post too much personal information on social media – be aware of social engineering
  • Do not enter personal information on a website that has no padlock in the browser or https:// at the beginning of the address
  • Protect your identity. Remember if you share any pictures or information with anyone online you will lose control of it.  In the simplest terms, if you do not want the world to know something, don't put it on the internet.

Follow this link for more information about protecting yourself online

Follow this link for more information about safe social networking

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Safe web surfing:

  • Check that a websites address is genuine by looking for misspellings, or a completely different name from what you would expect.
  • Roll your mouse pointer over a link to reveal its real destination. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text.
  • Check the address in the browser address bar to ensure it matches the address you typed.
  • Do not enter personal information on a website that has no padlock in the browser or https:// at the beginning of the address.
  • Promises online of high returns are often fraudulent.
  • Be wary of websites which promote schemes that involve the recruitment of others, receiving money for other people or advance payments.
  • Be wary of websites that are advertised in unsolicited emails from strangers.
  • Some cookies can be used by criminals to build a profile of you with a view to fraud;
    • Use an anti-spyware program that scans for so called tracker cookies
    • UK websites must gain your permission to enable cookies.
  • Secure and encrypt wireless networks when using WiFi (Wireless Internet access).

Online shopping:

  • Use reputable companies when shopping online.
  • Use secure payment methods, such as PayPal or credit cards for online purchases.
  • Do not enter personal information on a website that has no padlock in the browser or https:// at the beginning of the address
  • Be aware of scams: criminal gangs operate ‘scams’ and use the internet as one of the methods to defraud people and business, i.e. asking for money to pay for travel, finance a sick relative, or winning the lottery;
    • They may try passing off as your bank and ask for your banking details
    • They may also pretend to be Microsoft or your internet provider stating your computer has been corrupted and they want you to click on a link or download some software.  

Follow this link for more online shopping and banking advice. 


Remember: If it’s too good to be true – then it probably is!

For more online advice visit Get Safe Online.

If you think your local community would benefit from a cyber-crime prevention input please contact Dorset Police's Cyber-Crime Prevention Officer by emailing

Cyber bullying includes bullying via text message, instant messenger services, social network sites and email, as well as via images or videos posted on the internet or spread by mobile phone.

Follow this link for more support around bullying and cyber bullying.

Sextortion (a combination of sex and extortion) is where a victim is blackmailed to pay money to prevent intimate videos or photos of them being posted on social networking, photo-sharing or revenge porn websites, or being forwarded to others.

The blackmailer could be an ex-partner or someone who the victim has met or spoken to and has previously shared photos and videos with. But it is also increasingly common for organised gangs to pose as individuals looking for romance and trick victims into capturing intimate webcam footage, often without them even knowing they have been recorded as cameras can be activated by spyware.

A variation on sextortion is revenge porn, where an angry or jealous ex-partner posts intimate photos or videos of a victim online, simply to cause upset or humiliation rather than for any financial gain.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Be aware of the possible consequences of your online behaviour and the potential outcomes of having intimate photos or videos taken of yourself, even by somebody you are close to.
  • Do not take your clothes off or perform intimate acts in front of your webcam at all, whether you think you have switched it to record or not.
  • Tighten the privacy settings on your social media accounts and ensure you have security software loaded and switched on. This will significantly reduce the risk of being targeted by sextortion and many other similar forms of cyber-crime, including the possibility of someone remotely controlling your webcam.
  • If a compromising photo or video appears on a website or social media site, report the images and ask for them to be removed and the perpetrator to be blocked.

If you have become a victim of sextortion: 

  1. Don’t panic.Contact the police and your internet service provider immediately. The police will take your case seriously, will deal with it in confidence and will not judge you for being in this situation.
  2. Don't communicate further with the criminals. Take screen shots of all your communication. Suspend your Facebook account (but don’t delete it) and use the online reporting process to report the matter to Skype, YouTube etc. to have any video blocked and to set up an alert in case the video resurfaces. Deactivating the Facebook account temporarily rather than shutting it down will mean the data are preserved and will help police to collect evidence. The account can also be reactivated at any time so your online memories are not lost forever. Also, keep an eye on all the accounts which you might have linked in case the criminals try to contact you via one of those.
  3. Don't pay. Many victims who have paid have continued to get more demands for higher amounts of money. In some cases, even when the demands have been met the offenders will still go on to post the explicit videos. If you have already paid, check to see if the money has been collected. If it has, and if you are able, then make a note of where it was collected from. If it hasn't, then you can cancel the payment - and the sooner you do that the better.
  4. Preserve evidence. Make a note of all details provided by the offenders, for example; the Skype name (particularly the Skype ID), the Facebook URL; the Western Union or MoneyGram Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN); any photos/videos that were sent, etc. Be aware that the scammer's Skype name is different to their Skype ID, and it's the ID details that police will need. To get that, right click on their profile, select ‘View Profile’ and then look for the name shown in blue rather than the one above it in black. It'll be next to the word ’Skype’ and will have no spaces in it. DO NOT DELETE ANY CORRESPONDENCE.

Remember that you're the victim of organised criminals - you're not alone and confidential support is available.

Reporting Sextortion

If intimate photos or videos of you are posted online against your will report it to Dorset Police online here or by calling 101. 

Dorset Police will take your case seriously and will deal with it in confidence. You have been the victim of a sophisticated crime and will not be judged for being in this situation. Even if you don’t want to pursue a prosecution, please still report sextortion as we need information about the criminals to stop them.

Protect your identity and personal information:

Be Anonymous:

  • Choose a username that doesn’t let everyone know who you are, don't include your surname.
  • Don’t include identifying information such as your place of work either in your profile or when you first make contact.
  • Keep contact details such as your email address, home address, or phone number private.
  • Stop communicating with anyone who attempts to pressure you into providing your personal or financial information or who seems to be trying to trick you into providing it. If this happens, contact the dating provider immediately to not only protect yourself but other users too.

 Always report unacceptable or suspicious behaviour.

 Play it safe when you meet face-to-face

  1. Plan it. Say it. Do it.

It’s your date. Agree on what you both want from it before you meet up. Don’t feel pressured to meet before you’re ready or for any longer than you’re comfortable with – a short first date is fine.

  1. Meet in public. Stay in public.

The safest plan is to meet somewhere public and stay somewhere public. Make your own way there and back and don’t feel pressured to go home with your date. If you feel ready to move to a private environment, make sure your expectations match your date’s.

  1. Get to know the person, not the profile.

The way people interact online isn’t always the same face-to-face. Don’t be offended if your date is more guarded when meeting in person, or if things don’t progress as fast face-to-face.

  1. Not going well? Make your excuses and leave.

Don’t feel bad about cutting a date short if you’re not keen. You don’t owe the other person anything, no matter how long you’ve been chatting or what’s been suggested.

  1. If you’re raped or sexually assaulted on your date, help is available.

No matter what the circumstances, sexual activity against your will is a crime. Police and charities are here to help and support you. Visit: for more information.


Further information around online dating is available from Get Safe Online here. 

Information about stalking and harassment is available here.

Cyber security has never been more important.

Small and medium enterprises, SMEs, face particular difficulty in balancing their cybercrime prevention activities with the resources they have available.

If you think your business would benefit from a cyber-crime prevention input please contact Dorset Police's Cyber-Crime Prevention Officer, by emailing

For information on what small businesses need to know about cyber security - download the Small Business Cyber Security Information Booklet (943kb PDF).

Alternatively, please click here to view the Dorset Cyber Alliance website.

Follow this link for more business cyber security information.

The prevention of cyber-crime is a key priority for Dorset Police and the Dorset Police Cyber Crime Unit is focused on ensuring a response to all forms of cyber-crime impacting on our communities.

The objective of the Cyber-Crime Unit is to ensure that investigations carried out by Dorset Police into such offences, are supported with specialist knowledge by appropriately skilled officers, as this type of criminality is often complex in nature and methodology.

We want to ensure that victims of such offences receive a high level of service and appropriate crime prevention advice to lessen the impact of the crime and reduce the likelihood of them being victims again in the future.

The unit works in conjunction with regional and national units to ensure that they remain skilled and equipped to face the challenge of fighting crime in Cyberspace.

Follow this link to visit the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Zephyr. 

If you have been a victim of a cyber-crime please report it online here.

Alternatively if you wish to speak with someone call 101 or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040,


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