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14 July, 2024
 
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A disturbing surge in incidents reported to helpline 1480

CyberSafety center's statistical report reveals alarming rise in sextortion and cybercrimes during Q2 2023

Newsroom / CNA

Incidents reported to Helpline 1480 during the second quarter of 2023 have seen a notable increase of 47.97% compared to the same period in 2022, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education on Wednesday.

Of particular concern is the rising trend in incidents of sexual blackmail, commonly known as sextortion. There were 31 incidents reported, representing a 25.8% increase from the first quarter of 2023 (21 incidents) and a significant 61.3% increase from the corresponding report in 2022 (12 incidents).

The Cyprus Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education, acting as the coordinator of the Cyprus Safe Internet Center - CYberSafety (https://www.cybersafety.cy) and the Helpline 1480, released the statistical figures covering the period from April 1, 2023, to June 30, 2023.

The primary objective of the 1480 Helpline is to provide counseling and support services to children, adolescents, young people, parents, teachers, and the wider community, promoting the safe, responsible, and ethical use of the Internet and digital technologies.

During the mentioned period, a total of 1,098 individuals contacted the Helpline. Among the calls received, 283 (25.79%) were unrelated to the services provided by Helpline 1480, with callers seeking information on various matters, including benefits provided by the Ministry of Labour.

Incidents directly related to the Helpline's services have experienced a significant increase of 38.4% compared to the first quarter of 2023 and nearly doubled when compared to the corresponding report from 2022, with a rise of 47.97% (815 incidents in 2023 compared to 424 incidents in 2022).

This increase is a testament to the effective operation of the 1480 Helpline, indicating successful outreach efforts and the establishment of trust among the public.

Out of the 815 incidents reported, 60.12% (490 individuals) involved female callers, while 39.88% (325 individuals) were male. The majority of those seeking assistance were adults, accounting for 96.69% (788 individuals) of the total calls received.

Among the callers, only 19 individuals, representing 2.33% of the total, were minors (up to 18 years old) seeking support for personal difficulties encountered while using the Internet. Additionally, 7 calls (0.9%) were made by parents or guardians reporting online difficulties experienced by their children.

The majority of requests addressed cybercrime incidents, with 392 cases (35.8%) involving privacy breaches such as hacking, financial fraud, or identity theft through social media or email. Technical support issues were also a significant concern, accounting for 263 calls (23.9%) received by the 1480 Helpline.

Furthermore, 94 requests (8.6%) were related to data privacy complaints, including instances where callers' information was used to create unauthorized accounts or their material was unlawfully disclosed by other users.

To ensure continuous and quality advice and support in real-time, the Helpline is staffed by trained officers who specialize in addressing issues related to the safe, responsible, and ethical use of the Internet for children, adolescents, and families. These services are conducted in compliance with national laws and prioritize awareness and prompt assistance.

Citizens can reach the Helpline anonymously and free of charge during the following hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00 - 13:00 & 15:00 - 18:00, and Saturday 10:00 - 13:00. Alternatively, they can contact the Helpline via email at 1480helpline@cyearn.pi.ac.cy or engage in a chat session at https://www.cybersafety.cy/helpline-chat.

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