Two thirds of Internet users have fallen victim to cybercrime

When reading about instances of cybercrime, we often get caught in the numbers and think about the details of a particular attack or exploitation of a technology, and actually forget that the victims will have to leave with the consequences.

According to Symantec, 65% of adults worldwide have been a victim of some kind of cybercrime. Just think about that number for a moment, and try to imagine yourself in their place. If the numbers are right, you probably won’t have to imagine anything since you have already been in that situation. And if you live in China, Brazil, India or the U.S., the likelihood of having been a victim is even higher (83%, 76%, 76% and 73%, respectively).

Computer viruses and malware attacks, online scams, phishing attacks, hacking of social networking profiles, credit card fraud and sexual predation – the variety of online attacks is a sad fact. Another sad fact is that 28% of adults actually expect to be scammed or defrauded online.

But even as they are aware of the threat that cybercrime poses, only half of adults would actually change their online behavior if they became a victim. Maybe it is because of a feeling of helplessness stemming from the fact that many of them don’t know how to resolve the problem and their belief that cybercriminals are unlikely to be brought to justice, but who knows?

And how do the victims feel? Mostly angry (58%) and annoyed (51%), but cheated (40%), frustrated (38%) and violated (36%) as well. Many of them take the attack really personally and blame themselves for falling for the scam – whether it was phishing, an online scam or a malware attack. Only 25% percent work with the police to try and catch the perpetrator(s). Cybercrime costs time and money to resolve, but most victims regret the lost time most of all.

“People oddly resist protecting themselves and their computers because they think it’s too complicated,’ says Anne Collier, co-director of and editor of, who collaborated on the report.

But, apart from the common sense rules such as not giving out passwords and watching out for “too good to be true” offers, Symantec has offered a set of simple rules to follow in order prevent oneself becoming a victim – and these are steps that everyone can follow:

1. Use different email addresses for different accounts
2. Use one separate credit card with a small credit limit
3. Back up regularly (and use it as evidence, too)
4. Use complex passwords for each online account and update them often
5. Surf the Internet safely with the right security software

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