Symantec Finds 65% Have Been Hit By Cybercrime

Victims spent an average of 28 days and $334 fixing the damage, but few reported the crime to the police.

Mathew J. Schwartz, Contributor

September 8, 2010

2 Min Read

Strategic Security Survey: Global Threat, Local Pain

(click for larger image and for full photo gallery)

More than half of all adults have experienced some type of cybercrime, and more than one in 10 blame themselves, according to a new survey commissioned by Symantec and conducted by independent market research firm StrategyOne.

The study of 7,000 Internet users in 14 countries found that 65% of people globally have experienced some type of cybercrime. Half of respondents had been the victims of viruses or malware, 10% had responded to online scams, and 9% were prey to a phishing attack after mistaking it for a legitimate message. In addition, 7% of respondents said their social networking profile had been hacked, while equal numbers said they'd been approached online by social predators or experienced online credit card fraud.

But what's the emotional impact of cybercrime? Symantec says its study is the first to pose that question to cybercrime victims, and it found that people are angry (58%), annoyed (51%), and feel cheated (40%), especially since most think their attackers will never be brought to justice. Furthermore, while 41% blame criminals for the attacks, and 14% blame insecure websites, 13% of cybercrime victims blame themselves.

Interestingly, however, only 51% of people said they'd change their behavior if they became a cybercrime victim, and only 44% of actual victims notified police about the crime.

"We accept cybercrime because of a 'learned helplessness,'" according to a statement from Joseph LaBrie, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University. "It's like getting ripped off at a garage -- if you don't know enough about cars, you don't argue with the mechanic. People just accept a situation, even if it feels bad."

Unfortunately, cybercrime clean up can also be a lengthy and frustrating process. Respondents spent an average of $334 and 28 days dealing with the aftermath, and 28% said the biggest hassle was simply the amount of time and effort involved.

But experts said that attackers count on victims not wanting to bother with the hassle. According to Adam Palmer, Norton lead cybersecurity advisor at Symantec, "cybercriminals purposely steal small amounts to remain undetected, but all of these add up. If you fail to report a loss, you may actually be helping the criminal stay under the radar."

About the Author(s)

Mathew J. Schwartz


Mathew Schwartz served as the InformationWeek information security reporter from 2010 until mid-2014.

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights