It continues to be a boom time for cybercrime according to the latest Consumer Reports National Research Center “State of the Net” survey. Consumer Reports found that one in five online consumers have been victims of cybercrime in the last two years to the tune of an estimated $8 billion. And the overall rate of the crime has remained consistent over the five years that Consumer Reports has been tracking.
But Consumer Reports notes that the problem stands to get worse as rising unemployment and foreclosures fuel a wave of recession-orientated Internet scams, and as the popularity of social networking and data center services grow, creating more openings for identity thieves. Consumer Reports found that 13 percent of social-network users experienced some form of abuse.
Additionally, Consumer Reports estimates that 1.2 million consumers have had to replace their computers over the past two years due to software infections and an estimated 3.7 million households with broadband Internet access did not use a firewall to protect against hackers. Below are additional findings related to major online threats:
â€¢ Phishing or sending authentic-looking but fraudulent e-mail designed to steal sensitive personal information is a continuing concern. Consumer Reports estimates that about 7 million consumers gave phishers personal information over the past two years; that’s 1 in 13 online households. Among scam victims, 1 in 7 lost money in the past two years, comparable with data from the last survey. Total damage to U.S. consumers through phishing attacks works out to about $483 million.
â€¢ Spyware: Consumer Reports found 545,000 households had to replace computers in the past six months and one in 12 people had serious problems with spyware.
â€¢ Online identity theft: Consumer Reports estimates 1.7 million households were victims of ID theft committed over the Internet in the past year, of those two-thirds said the incident occurred because of an online purchase.