In 2019, 76 percent of Europeans used the internet every day on average, according to the survey Europeans’ attitude towards cyber security.
In 2015 the same number was 65%, meaning that there has been an increase of 11 percentage points in four years. One should however mind that the average differs greatly between countries.
In Sweden, the average is 95%, compared to Romania were the average is 61%. Although the digitalization of society has gone faster in some countries than others, all countries can expect to see more and more digitalization. There is no reason to assume that it will slow down.
Digitalization overall is mainly positive, but unfortunately there are also downsides that come in its wake. As shown in the survey “Survey on scams and fraud” by the European commission frequent internet use is the most important predictor for experiencing a scam or fraud.
According to the study the risk goes up no less than 25 percentage points if you use the internet at least once a week (in comparison to if you hardly use the internet at all). This is also reflected in that people living in the more digitalized Western Europe are more likely to be the subject of scams or frauds than people living in the less digitalized Eastern Europe.
Data breaches where people’s personal information is stolen happens on an almost daily basis and is one of the main enablers for cybercrime towards private individuals.
In 2019 alone 4,1 billion records were exposed internationally and there was an increase by 54% in the number of breaches reported, according to ENISA:s Threat landscape survey Identity Theft. Once stolen, personal data is traded, sold, and often misused with criminal and malicious intent. The top two data types lost in 2019 were emails and passwords according to the same report.
On top of that one must consider all the data already circulating in shady areas of the internet, including the notorious dark web (an encrypted part of the internet where illegal trade of various types takes place, e.g., people's personal data).
According to the global survey 2019 Cyber safety insights report global results more than half had experienced a cybercrime, whereas 1 in 3 had fallen victim in the past 12 months.
With so many people being exposed to cybercrime it is no wonder that people in general are concerned. On average 76% of EU-citizens believe that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime is increasing, in countries like Sweden and Finland the numbers are as high as 91%. If you look at some of the crimes the average EU-citizen is most afraid of bank card fraud comes out on top with 67%, closely followed by identity theft and malware (malicious software) 66%.
In the European Commissions Survey on scams and fraud experienced by consumers no less than 79% answered that they had suffered emotionally after being the victim of a scam or fraud on the internet. The feelings stated ranged from stress and irritation to anger and embarrassment.
24% had suffered financially and 6% even stated that they had suffered physically. Even tough financial and emotional suffering is what people often think of when it comes victims of cybercrime many forget the time aspect of resolving the problem. In the global survey 2019 Cyber safety insights report global results they estimated that people spent 5,8 hours on average resolving the concrescences of identity theft and other cybercrimes.
Another aspect that should not be forgotten is the reputational aspect. Getting your private pictures posted publicly on the internet against your will is a typical example of this, being the victim of someone impersonating you on social media is another. The reputational aspect is harder to calculate, which is probably why there seems to be no survey covering this aspect. Although, one might assume that some of the 79% that had answered that they suffered emotionally in mentioned survey; Survey on scams and fraud experienced by consumers had suffered from reputational loss in some manner.
Although people in general are concerned about the rising threat of cybercrime, they are quite bad at protecting themselves. In the survey Europeans’ attitude towards cyber security 42% on average in the EU said that they don’t open emails from people they don’t know, this number is equaled when it comes to having antivirus installed.
These numbers are actually fairly good, but when you start looking at the numbers for security measures that are more directly related to identity theft you see a distressing pattern: only 30% are less likely to enter personal information on websites and only 32% stick to websites they know and trust. Password management is even worse; only 29% say they use different passwords for different sites a mere 26% uses a more complex password than in the past. Even worse yet; only 21% regularly change passwords and as few as 7% say they use a password manager.
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