A survey of U.S. adults revealed that three times the number of respondents said they were more likely to be victimized in an online attack such as phishing or virus outbreaks than a physical crime.
Twenty six percent of respondents said they think they will be a victim of a virtual crime in the next 12 months, compared with just 8 percent who think that a physical crime is more likely, according to the survey of almost 700 people, which was sponsored by IBM.
The fear of online crime may already be affecting the behavior of adults. Thirty seven percent of those responding to the IBM survey said they dont provide credit card information in online transactions. A similar number said they dont bank online and half said they refuse to use shared wireless networks, such as those in coffee shops and airports, IBM said.
The telephone survey of 337 males and 342 female adults was conducted by Opinion Research Corp. and has a margin of error of four percentage points, IBM said.
Income was a factor in respondents fears of online crime. Of the responses from affluent individuals (those with household incomes greater than $50,000), 34 percent were more concerned about virtual than physical crimes, compared to just 12 percent of those with household incomes less than $50,000.
Despite their fears, a similar number of respondents report being the victim of a computer crime in the last 12 months (6 percent) as being a victim of physical crime (7 percent).
The difference may be due to increased coverage of cyber-crime incidents and the continued increases in the adoption of technology, IBM said.
Identity theft was the main fear of survey respondents. Forty-three percent listed it as their top concern, followed by loss of money (24 percent) and harm to credit rating (13 percent).
Consumers are changing their behavior to address their fears, IBM said. Three quarters report taking steps to protect themselves from cyber-crime. Those steps include destroying documents (85 percent), looking for security seals on Web sites (70 percent) and avoiding transactions on shared computers (64 percent).