American's are worrying more about becoming cybercrime victims far more so than becoming victims of conventional crimes.
A recent Gallop poll study found 67 percent of Americans worry about hackers stealing their personal information and 66 percent worry about identity theft compared to just 38 percent who fear having their vehicle stolen. About 36 percent are agraid being a victim of terrorism.
The poll, which conducted between October 5-11 this year, had results that were consistent with those found in during previous studies with the percentage of Americans who worry frequently or occasionally about being a victim of identity theft hovering between 66 and 70 percent since 2009.
Researchers noted that respondents were more likely to report being a victim of a cybercrime than they were being a victim of another crime.
“Since 2009, Americans' anxiety about identity theft has consistently topped their fears about other crimes by at least 19 percentage points,” researchers said. “This year's gap between fear of cybercrime and the next-greatest level of crime worry, having a car broken into, is a wide 28 percentage points.”
Researchers also noted that Americans cybercrime concerns stem from the the fact that many have already been hit with such a crime. About 25 percent of those surveyed reported that they or a household member has had personal information stolen from them within the last 12 months.
This is almost double the number of people impacted by traditional crime. The study said stolen money or property were the most common conventional crimes to affect U.S. adults, with 12% saying they had been a victim of this activity within the same time period.
The general fear of cybercrime was pretty even across most age groups, but middle aged Americas were the more likely to experience both identity theft and loss of personal information to hackers than seniors or those who were 30 yeas old or less.
To make matters worse and help keep anxiety levels high, law enforcement is fighting an uphill battle to stop cybercrime, High-Tech Bridge Chief Information Officer Ilia Kolochenko told SC Media.
“Even in developed countries, law enforcement agencies face paucity of financing, lack of competent personnel, reluctant international investigatory cooperation and skyrocketing number of cybercrime incidents,” Kolochenko said. “Thus, investigation of the overwhelming majority of digital crimes becomes virtually impossible.”
He added that cryptocurrencies and modern anonymization techniques, can effectively preclude almost any technical investigation by private companies with the necessary resources. Compared to conventional crime, if a car is stolen, one could call 911 and they would likely find, arrest and prosecute the hijacker.
“There are no “silver bullet” recommendations to stay secure for home users,” he said. “However, keeping all your devices and any installed software up2date, usage of strong and unique passwords, installation of free security software from reputable vendors, and a basic cybersecurity awareness class – can definitely help.”The results are based on telephone interviews from a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.