Monetary and reputation threats

In a recent survey about identity theft, Americans said their number one fear was having bank account, credit card or other personal information stolen from their computers. Interestingly, the second greatest concern was about Trojan viruses that can make a computer an unwitting accomplice in distributing spam, infections or child pornography.

Identity theft is not new and the threat is real and founded. In 2008, 9.9 million Americans were victims to identity theft, up from 8.1 million in 20071. And criminals are continuing to move online – online threats grew three-fold to 1.7 million.2 While much of the attention is focused on monetary loss, damage to reputation is also high in the minds of Americans.

The most common attacks include Trojan horses and other viruses, keystroke logging, phishing attacks and spyware. In the study, participants named Trojan horses as their top concern.

Although 71% of the survey sample had installed and updated anti-virus software and 44% had enabled a firewall on their home router and/or computers, 30% still recorded having been infected by a virus in the last three months and 77% of the overall sample reported having been infected at some point in their computing life.

Study findings:

  • 56% identified theft of bank account, credit card, or other personal information from their computer as one of their top two concerns
  • 29% identified Trojan viruses that hijack their computers for the distribution of spam, infections, or child pornography to other computers and users as one of their top two concerns
  • 27% identified phishing, which further reinforces identity theft as one of their top two concerns
  • 26% were most concerned with having their computer’s performance compromised by viruses
  • 15% were concerned about viruses corrupting their personal photos, videos and other memories.

The survey was conducted by independent research firm Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research.

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