REFERENCE 10 Feb, 2020

Europeans Anxious About Cybercrime

They may understand it better, but this doesn’t protect them

REFERENCE Europeans Anxious About Cybercrime

As part of its consumer protection efforts, the EU takes cybercrime seriously, and has for years been at the forefront of protecting European citizens, for instance by instituting stronger rules against online payment fraud and better assistance to victims. A new Eurobarometer poll shows that it has been at least partially successful – but that much remains to be done. More people say they feel better informed about Internet graft than they did in 2017, when a previous survey on cybercrime in Europe was conducted on behalf of the Commission. But this share of informed citizens rose only to 52%, which leaves just under half of European feeling poorly informed.

This measured good news is counterbalanced by the rising insecurity of Europeans about themselves becoming the victims of Internet crime. 76% of the respondents said that the risk of becoming a victim is rising. Only just over half of the interviewees felt that they can adequately protect themselves from it. This figure was a full 9% less than it was two years ago. The survey showed great variation across the EU countries. In Finland and Sweden, over 90% saw Internet graft rising while in Slovakia, the lowest in the EU, it was only 54% that perceived a rise.

The survey, conducted by Kantar Public polling in October 2019, underscores the changes in European perceptions since the 2017 survey, among others published in 2018, and 2013.

Over two thirds of Europeans say that their personal information is not secure. Only 16% say that they can adequately protect themselves and their data.

As for reporting or otherwise acting on cybercrime, for example, by reporting it, few actually do. A full 77% said that they knew of neither website online platforms, email addresses or telephone numbers to which they could report cybercrime.

The kinds of crimes that Europeans worry about are diverse. Over 50% are concerned about the following: online banking fraud, malicious software or identity theft, the hacking of online email accounts or social media, fraudulent emails or phone calls, cyber attacks that shut them off from online services, demands for payment in order to operate a device, goods ordered that are not delivered or are counterfeit, and running into some kind of child pornography.

These concerns have risen dramatically since the earliest European study on the problem in 2013.

As for actually being a victim of some kind of cybercrime, even just having received a fraudulent email or malicious software, the numbers are relatively low. Three in ten say that they or someone that they know has experienced such activity within the past three years. The infractions most likely to elicit a response from victims, in terms of the reporting of such infractions, are: 84% for banking fraud and 60% for child pornography and the hacking of an email account.

In light of the report, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, commented: “We need to do more to raise awareness about threats and about ways to stay safe online, but we cannot stop at prevention alone. We need to close the growing gap between capabilities of criminals and those of law enforcement authorities. This will be one of the priorities in our new way forward on internal security.”