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Cybercrime Feared 3 Times More Than Physical Crime

Recent poll data, indicating that data breaches and identity thievery are changing consumer behavior, have been confirmed by a report released Wednesday by IBM
Three times more Americans think they'll be hit by computer crime in the next year than real-world wrongdoing of the old-fashioned kind, a survey released Wednesday by IBM said.

The anticipation of cyber exploitation -- everything from viruses to identity scams -- is substantially higher than the actual results of the last 12 months, when six percent reported being victimized by cybercrime and seven percent said they'd been hit by a physical crime.

According to the poll of 700 U.S. adults, this angst is changing a host of online behaviors.

Seventy percent of those surveyed, for instance, said that they only shop at Internet sites that display a security protection seal or icon, while 64 percent claimed that they don’t conduct e-transactions on a shared computer.

Half said they don't use open public wireless networks, like those at coffee shops and airports, and 38 percent won't bank online.

In fact, the IBM survey noted that substantial numbers of Americans have gone even further in turning their backs on the online world because of security worries.

Twenty-seven percent said they've stopped buying goods online from unfamiliar e-retailers, 18 percent noted that they'd stopping paying bills online, and 16 percent -- or one in six -- said they've stopped playing online games because of crime anxiety.

People are taking drastic steps like these, said the survey, because a majority -- 53 percent -- hold themselves responsible for protecting themselves from cyber crime.

"As awareness of these new threats emerges, it's key that consumers, business, and government agencies work together to help alleviate public worry about cybercrimes," said Stuart McIrvine, director of IBM's security strategy, in a statement.

IBM's survey results are in sync with a number of other recent polls, all of which have concluded that data breaches, worm attacks, and identity thievery are changing consumer behavior. A Consumer Reports survey in October 2005, for example, said that one in four had stopped buying things online and one in three had cut on back e-purchases over identity theft worries.