Migration and Home Affairs

Europeans’ attitudes towards cyber security

The special Eurobarometer 464a on the attitudes of Europeans towards cyber security was published on 13 September. The survey reflects consistent rates of increase in online activity, with ever more respondents in the EU using the internet for their daily activities. At the same time, there are increasing concerns about security aspects and also higher incidents of cybercrimes compared to previous surveys.

The results of the survey show that a large majority (87%) of European Union citizens regard cybercrime as an important challenge to the internal security of the EU: 56% think that cybercrime is a very important challenge and 31% see it as fairly important (based on more than 28 000 face-to-face interviews). In 2015, 80% (42% and 38%, respectively) were of the same opinion.

Nearly half of respondents (49%) think enough is being done by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in their respective countries to combat cybercrime, although only 13% agree completely and a significant proportion (14%) say they do not know. For comparison, the following percentages think that LEAs do enough to fight: terrorism 63%, drug trafficking 53%, and corruption 43%.

The two most common concerns when using the Internet for online banking or purchases are about the misuse of personal data (45%) and the security of online payments (42%). This is a steady increase from 2013 (37% and 35%) via 2015 (43% and 42%, respectively).

However, nearly a fifth (19%) have no concerns about the security of Internet transactions – which is nearly the same as in 2015 (18%), but less than in 2013 (23%). In total, 62% changed any of their passwords in the year preceding the 2017 survey (with 61% reporting this in 2015 and only 48% in 2013).

While this is a positive trend (which can be attributed to rising awareness), it is in contrast to the number of respondents who have changed their e-mail passwords in the 12 months preceding the surveys: 31% in 2013, 45% in 2015, and 41% in 2017.

46% of respondents feel very well or fairly well informed about the risks of cybercrime (44% in 2013 and 47% in 2015), against 51% feeling not well or not at all informed (2013: 52%, 2015: 50%). There is a big difference between Member States: In Denmark, only 22% feel not well or not at all informed, compared to 70% in Bulgaria.

The two most common situations experienced by respondents remain discovering malicious software on their device (42%) and receiving an email or phone call fraudulently asking for access to their computer, logins or personal details ('phishing', 38%). 8% of respondents were asked to pay in return for getting back control of their device, and the same percentage had their identity stolen.

There is no general trend to suggest that experiences of cybercrime overall are growing, but there are increases in victimisation rates notably for phishing (38% of respondents experienced this in 2017 compared to 32% in 2013), online fraud (16% versus 10%), and online banking fraud (11% in 2017, 7% in 2013), as well as in encountering racial hatred online (2017: 18%, 2013: 14%), or hacking of social media profiles (14% versus 12%). The two most common situations experienced by respondents remain discovering malicious software on their device (42%) and receiving an email or phone call fraudulently asking for access to their computer, logins or personal details ('phishing', 38%).

If they experienced or were the victim of cybercrime, most respondents say they would contact the police, especially if the crime was identity theft (85%), online banking fraud (76%), or if they accidentally encountered child pornography online (76%).

This Eurobarometer survey was carried out in the 28 Member States of the European Union between 13 and 26 June 2017. Some 28 093 EU citizens from different social and demographic categories were interviewed at home and in their native language.

Special Eurobarometers are ad hoc thematic face-to-face interviews conducted at the request of any service of the European Commission. Reproduction is authorised, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.

Background

The European Commission is working to strengthen the EU's overall response to cybercrime and contribute to improving cybersecurity for citizens.
On 13th September 2017, the Commission adopted its review of the cybersecurity strategy as part of a cyber package.

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Tuesday, 19 September, 2017