Calls to the 1480 helpline rose by almost 50 per cent compared to last year, a report released by the Cyprus pedagogical institute said on Thursday, as 424 calls were recorded in 2022 against 258 in 2021.
The Helpline 1480 is a service operating within CYberSafety’s framework of activities with the aim of providing children, young people, parents, teachers and society at large with support services regarding safe, responsible, and ethical use of the internet and digital technologies.
CYberSafety is a project co-financed by the EU.
According to the report, of the 424 calls in 2022 to Helpline’s services 96.5 per cent – that is 409 individuals – were from adults and the remaining 3.5 per cent minors.
Most of the callers were women, numbering 264 individuals and 160 were men.
The predominant mode of communication is the telephone with a record of 408 calls, while only 16 individuals used email. Online chat and forms were not used at all.
Of the 409 adults, 29 called to address difficulties regarding children’s and teenagers’ internet activity, while most adults – 380 – called the line seeking support for their own personal needs.
Minors used the line to report personal difficulties on the internet.
In addition, 29 per cent of those calling sought to address matters irrelevant to the line’s services.
Regarding the incidents reported, 47.2 per cent concerned digital crime such as hacking and financial fraud, 13 per cent were on internet literacy matters and 12.3 per cent on privacy of data.
Moreover 11.8 per cent of the incidents concerned internet bullying, 7.1 related to technical support, 6.6 per cent to sexual harassment including sextortion, four cases related to potentially harmful content, 0.7 per cent to long use hours, and 0.5 per cent to advertising and commercialisation.
An increase in reports was also observed in relation to the theft of login credentials and illegally accessing social media profiles of other users.
Additionally, callers said they are on the receiving end of messages from profiles of their internet friends encouraging them to invest in various cryptocurrencies by clicking on links that redirect to web pages asking to fill their social media login information or participate in fraudulent contests.
The line’s response includes helping and guiding users through account recovery processes and also directions on how to be more careful when communicating via the internet. They are also urged to investigate the veracity of the various requests they receive and to not trust messages demanding money or offering gifts while at the same time strengthening their security settings, enabling among other things, two-factor authentication.
Individuals seeking such support can contact 1480 free of charge from Monday to Friday from 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 6pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. Alternatively they can email [email protected] or visit the website and submit a form https://www.cybersafety.cy/helpline-report or chat with a helpline officer https://www.cybersafety.cy/helpline-chat