Consumers are more concerned about the threat from cyber crime than they are physical crime, new research suggests.
A survey of 1,250 people in the UK, US, Germany, Austria and Switzerland by Sophos found consumers were more concerned about hackers taking over their computer than their car being stolen or them being physically assaulted.
The report, which looked at consumers’ attitudes to phishing, ransomware, malware, spyware, hacking attacks and other cyber threats, found incidents of cyber crime are only set to rise, thanks to the mass use of digital platforms and the growing number of electronic transactions.
Of those surveyed, 63 per cent worry about financial losses because of a computer breach, 61 per cent are worried about hackers taking over their computer and 58 per cent are worried that hackers could render their computer useless.
But only 46 per cent are worried about their car being stolen or being physically attacked, 52 per cent are worried about burglaries and 56 per cent are worried about terrorist attacks.
“These 1,250 respondents are the voice of every individual accessing internet across the globe,” said Sophos’ Sunil Sharma.
“Consumers are lured with real-like phishing emails or too-good-to-be-true offers into opening dodgy documents or malicious URLs. One wrong click and you become a puppet to the crooks.”
Despite the heightened worry around cyber crime, awareness of phishing and ransomware remains low, the survey found. Nearly half – 47 per cent – are either unaware of the practice of phishing or see it as a minimal threat.
Sophos said this was concerning given phishing is the number one way cyber criminals gain access to personal data. 31 per cent of those surveyed said they are not familiar with ransomware or perceive it as a low threat.
On the other hand, malware and spyware – better-known cyber threats – are seen as being the most significant threats, with 59 per cent seeing malware as an “extremely large” threat.
It’s time consumers learn about the evolving tricks of cybercriminals,” Sharma said.
“People know that they should lock-up their physical belongings to keep them safe but when it comes to online security most of them are unaware of cyber threats and are not prepared for it. And this is the most worrying outcome of the survey we have conducted.”