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September 14, 2010

Cybercrime strikes over two-thirds of all internet users

New study first to gauge emotional impact of cybercrime

The next time you surf the Internet, consider this: You might be just one click away from becoming the next cybercrime victim. A new study released today from security software maker Norton reveals the staggering prevalence of cybercrime: Two-thirds (65 percent) of Internet users globally have fallen victim to cybercrimes, including computer viruses, online credit card fraud and identity theft.

The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact shines a light on the personal toll cybercrime takes. The first study to examine the emotional impact of cybercrime, it shows that globally victims‘ strongest reactions are feeling angry (58 percent), annoyed (51 percent) and cheated (40 percent), and in many cases, they blame themselves for being attacked. Only 3 percent don‘t think it will happen to them, and nearly 80 percent do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice - resulting in an ironic reluctance to take action and a sense of helplessness.

"We accept cybercrime because of a 'learned helplessness'," said Joseph LaBrie, PhD, 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."

Despite the emotional burden, the universal threat, and incidence of cybercrime, people still aren‘t changing their behaviours - with only half (51 percent) of adults saying they would change their behaviour if they became a victim. Even scarier, fewer than half (44 percent) reported the crime to the police.

The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact polled Canadians and found 64 percent of respondents have fallen victim to some kind of online crime (53 percent received computer viruses/malware, nine percent responded to online scams, nine percent have been affected by online credit card fraud).

On average, it takes 17 days and costs CAD $582 to resolve a cybercrime in Canada. Compared to other countries, the process is fast – but the cost is higher. (Globally 28 days and US $334)

When it comes to behaviours online, Canadians are on par with other countries in their online ethics: 44 percent have lied about personal details online (45 percent globally), 31 percent have used a fake ID online (33 percent globally) and 20 percent have online regrets (22 percent globally). By contrast, some Canadian attitudes differ from the rest of the world. Only one percent of Canadians do not expect to become a victim of cybercrime (3 percent globally), and Canadians are the most skeptical (57 percent) about restoring a damaged online reputation (45 percent globally).

The human impact aspect of the report delves further into the little crimes or white lies consumers perpetrate against friends, family, loved ones and businesses. Nearly half of respondents think it‘s legal to download a single music track, album or movie without paying. Twenty-four percent believe it‘s legal or perfectly okay to secretly view someone else‘s e-mails or browser history. Some of these behaviours, such as downloading files, open people up to additional security threats.

To avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime, change your passwords often and make sure they are a combination of letters and numbers," said Lynn Hargrove, Director of Consumer Solutions, Symantec Canada. "Make sure you have a separate credit card for all your online transactions and keep your home computer secure by making sure it has up-to-date security software."

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