Fear of internet crime is now more prevalent than concerns about more conventional crimes such as burglary, mugging and car theft, according to a report published today. And criminals are increasingly targeting cyberspace as more and more people shop online and use internet banking services.
The study was conducted by Get Safe Online, a UK internet security awareness campaign launched last year by the government, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and big online companies.
More than a fifth of internet users (21%) feel more vulnerable to electronic crime than any other type of criminal activity. It is second only to bank card fraud (27%) as the type of crime to which survey respondents felt most exposed. Internet crime has overtaken burglary (16%) as one of the crimes people feel most at risk of.
Of course like many things that people fear the perception differs hugely with the actual reality of the situation. That’s not to say that there isn’t a risk of becoming a victim of crime on the internet but that there are simple and easy precautions that people can take to minimize their exposure.
The problem is that the internet is still largely an unfamiliar environment for most people even if they do shop and bank online. There is generally an awareness amongst people of the crime rate in their area and so they can gauge to what extent they are of at risk of being burglarised. But the internet exists as a single place in the minds of many people and so every story they hear of crimes carried out online further increases their anxiety about it.