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Two-Thirds Of Internet Users Targeted In Online Crime

About two-thirds of Internet users globally and nearly three-quarters of Web surfers in the U.S. have been victims of online crime, according to a study by Symantec which is to be released on Wednesday.

The top countries as far as reported victims are China, Brazil and India tied for second, and then the U.S., according to the findings of the study, titled "Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact." More than 7,000 adults in 14 countries were interviewed for the study.

While one-quarter of respondents said they expect to be victimized by online crime, only half said they would change their behavior if they became a victim. Of those who have been victimized, 44 per cent reported the crime to the police.

It takes an average of 28 days to resolve a cybercrime and costs on average $334 (£218), the report found. One-third of respondents who were victimized said they never fully resolved the matter.

Those results stood out to Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt, who tracks this type of data for a living. "What we were really surprised by was, first of all, how common it was that people are being victimized by cybercrime," she said.

Another surprise: how victims react to being hacked. "People do fee angry, but we also found that people feel pretty guilty," she said. "54 percent said they should have been more careful, when they responded to online scams."

Computer viruses and malware are the most common types of online attacks, with 51 per cent reporting being impacted by them, followed by 10 per cent hit by "online scams," 9 per cent by phishing and seven per cent each for social network profile hacking, online credit card fraud and sexual predation, according to the report.

When it came to identity theft victims, 12 percent said that the incident was entirely their fault, Symantec found.

Many people are in a pretty muddled state when it comes to dealing with the threat of online crime, however. They know that cybercrime is common, but they're unsure what to do to really prevent it, Merritt said.

"People are recognizing that they did something wrong in a variety of different ways, but they're not to a great extent changing their behavior," Merritt said. "There's such a lack of awareness and knowledge about who's doing that cybercrime that people really don't know what to do."

There are a lot of other things Internet users can do to keep safe, however. Users also need to be careful where they're going on the Web, double check the attachments they open, and be wary of any out-of-character messages sent from friends via Twitter, Web mail, or social networks.

And they also should do a better job of reporting cyber attacks to authorities, Merritt said. They can report cases to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center Web site, but also to local authorities. Reporting scams to local high tech crime units really can give law enforcement a better understanding of what the scammers are up to, Merritt said. "If multiple people are reporting the same crime, it will get referred," she said. "They're going to start noticing trends when they have the information available."

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