Americans worry about online crime, but leave themselves open to attack

A new Norton by Symantec study found 80 percent of Americans are worried they will be victimized by an online crime.
A new Norton by Symantec study found 80 percent of Americans are worried they will be victimized by an online crime.

A new Norton by Symantec study found 80 percent of Americans are worried they will be victimized by an online crime, but at the same time consumers are over confident in the belief that their online habits are safe.

The top line numbers the report exposed include 348 million identities being exposed in 2014 and 594 million people being affected by cybercrime worldwide.

However, Symantec found that despite how widespread online crime is, most people are blithely unaware that their current computer security practices are well below the standard for keeping their data safe. This even though almost half have reported being already victimized by a cyber crime.

“When asked to grade their security practices, they consistently award themselves a solid “A.” But in reality, most are not passing the most basic requirement of online security: password use,” the report stated.

It was found less than half use a properly secure password, meaning an alphanumeric of at least eight characters. Other people were found sharing passwords with friends and family for items like their bank account and email.

“Ironically, two in three believe it is riskier to share their email password with a friend than lend them their car, yet half of those sharing passwords do just that,” Symantec noted.

The survey also found that the generation most comfortable with technology also were the most victimized by online crime. Millennials.

“While they work, conduct business and socialize online, 44 percent of U.S. Millennials have been a victim of online crime in the last year,” the report stated, adding globally, Millennials are also the most likely to share passwords at 31 percent.  

Contrarily, Baby Boomers were shown to be less vulnerable with only15 percent sharing passwords and 44 percent using properly configured passwords. This has helped keep the cyber crime rate down among this age group to only 16 percent.

A cyber crime not only impacts a victim's bottom line, about $358 per person, but also takes away something even more valuable, time. The report found people spent about 21 hours dealing with the fallout from an online crime.

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