U.S. consumers and cyber crime - Statistics & Facts

Cybercrime refers to the use of a computer to commit fraud, illegally traffic intellectual property, steal identities or violate privacy. Cybercrime over the internet is gaining relevance as the internet has become vital to commerce, entertainment and government. As the internet and its widespread adoption first occurred in the United States, it was there that the first occurrences and effects of cybercrime were felt and continue to be felt on a large scale.

In the United States, data breaches are an ever-increasing problem as tens of millions records are exposed annually.

In 2016, the United States was victim to 28 percent of web application attacks worldwide, followed by the Netherlands and Germany. During an August 2017 survey in the United States, it was found that 32 percent of internet users had their online accounts hacked before. Further, a July 2016 survey revealed that 13 percent of internet users in the United States had experienced online harassment through hacked accounts and stolen information. The largest occurrences of compromised data as of May 2017 include the August 2013 and the 2014 Yahoo data breach, both which were only revealed in late 2016 and which compromised 1 billion and 500 million data records respectively. Due to the global nature of these digital incidents, international cooperation is required for their resolution.

Despite the negative consequences of cybercrime, one positive which can be drawn is the rising awareness of the topic among U.S. citizens. As of May 2017, 59 percent of respondents of a U.S. survey stated that the most concerning issue about online usage was the risk of their money or personal information being stolen, and 49 percent cited cyberattacks designed to disrupt U.S. life as their biggest worry.

As consumers are expressing concern and recognizing potential issues, they are also taking preventive measures or seeking solutions, factors which are key if a reduction in cybercrime is to be achieved. In fact, user behavior plays a key role in combating cybercrime and prevention is typically the best defense. Some tips for prevention include keeping your computer current with the latest updates, making sure it is configured securely, choosing strong passwords and protecting your computer with security software.

A 2017 survey on the importance of cyber security revealed that 80 percent of U.S. respondents considered cyber security to be very important, so it is perhaps unsurprising that as of a survey held in 2017, 56 percent of respondents in the United States had taken some form of online security precautions over the last month. However, another survey showed that 17 percent of adults in the United States had last changed their passwords for their personal e-mail accounts over a year ago.

Taking precautions such as securing personal computers, information and passwords are important ways to prevent cybercrime. If U.S. consumers continue to tackle potential issues when they arise or utilize tactics to counter them, there is a stronger possibility of mitigating potential damage.

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