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Tens of millions of Germany’s web users are falling victim to computer crime, according to data from BITKOM. A January 2014 ARIS survey of 1,021 internet users in the country found that 38% had suffered some kind of cyberattack in the previous 12 months. That suggests that 21 million people in the country had online security problems last year.
Of those polled, 24% saw their computers infected with malware such as viruses, and a further 14% were victims of phishing—resulting in their access credentials to online shops, social networks or other online services being breached.
Several types of attacks affected no more than one in 10 internet users. For example, 10% said they had lost money as a consequence of a cyberattack or theft of personal data, while 9% said they had been deceived in an online auction or in the course of buying something from another individual. Around one in 12 (8%) had spam emails sent via their web address, and 7% of respondents’ personal data had been hacked and then used illegally.
Despite the worrying scale of the problem overall, more than half (57%) of respondents said they hadn’t yet been affected by cybercrime—either because of protective software or through luck.
The security of personal data was already a prime concern for many web users in Germany before the January 2014 study. July 2013 polling, also conducted by ARIS for BITKOM, found that only 29% of internet users in Germany ages 14 and older felt their online information was safe, and just 2% of that group said they considered it very safe. Two-thirds of those polled believed such information was rather or totally unsafe. That proportion had risen from 55% in 2011.
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