Covid-19 left people feeling vulnerable to cyber crime

by Joseph K. Clark

Almost half of Britons say they feel more vulnerable to cybercrime today than they did before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indeed, nearly 15 million people across the country say they have been victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months, each spending an average of 4.4 hours trying to resolve issues and losing a collective £2.7bn.

This is according to NortonLifeLock’s 2021 Norton cyber safety insights report, which gathered responses from over 10,000 people in Australia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the UK, and the US to establish current consumer attitudes to cyber security.

feeling vulnerable

The researchers found that 74% of respondents from the UK believed the new culture of universal remote working had made it far easier for cybercriminals to take advantage of them. In comparison, 59% were more worried than before about becoming a victim of cybercrime, and 62% were concerned their identity would be stolen. Additionally, 46% said they weren’t sure how to protect themselves from cybercrime.

“As restrictions saw most Brits clocking up more time online than ever before, cybercriminals have taken advantage with coordinated attacks and convincing scams,” said Steve Wilson, sales and marketing director at NortonLifeLock.

“Cybercriminals have made millions from stealing people’s personal information and hard-earned money,” he said. “The silver lining of the increased concern is that many Britons (66%) say they are taking more precautions to stay safe online.”

Beyond the impact on its victims’ time and finances, cybercrime also packs an emotional punch. The study said those who had had their accounts or devices broken into experiencing anger, stress, vulnerability, powerlessness, and violation.

“The stress of cybercrime adds up over time,” said Wilson. “This is particularly true for identity theft. Victims of identity theft often suffer the consequences for years. For the two million Brits impacted by identity theft in the past 12 months alone, this means a lifetime of vigilance for suspicious activity on their accounts or against their name.”

NortonLifeLock said that Brits tend to exhibit overconfidence in their ability to protect themselves online, with 62% saying they were very worried their identity would be stolen but 63% saying they felt well-protected. Over half said they would have no idea what to do if they did fall victim to identity theft, and three quarters said they wished they had more information on what to do.

Similarly, over half of respondents in the UK said they felt it impossible to protect their privacy online, and almost half said they wouldn’t know where to start. However, on the upside, 84% of UK respondents said they had actively taken steps to improve their online privacy by hiding their online footprint. Many of those did so due to changes to their lifestyle or working environment during the pandemic.

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