One-fifth of US consumers hit by cybercrime

At least one in five online consumers in the US has fallen victim to cybercrime in the past two years, the Consumer Reports survey revealed.

The victims lost a combined $8 billion, Consumer Reports said Around 1.7 million households fell victim to identity theft over the past year, with two thirds of these incidents occurring because of an online purchase.

And although the level of cybercrime has remained steady over the past five years, the problem stands to get worse as the economic slump deepens, the group said. Rising unemployment and foreclosures are set to fuel a wave of recession-orientated internet scams.

The rise of social networking sites will also contribute, Consumer Reports said – already, 13% of social network users experienced some form of abuse, and social networking-based phishing and spyware attacks will only increase as users grow.

Around 1.2 million consumers had to replace their computers over the last two years due to software infections, with 545,000 of these occurring due to spyware.

One in 12 people had “serious problems” with spyware, yet 35% of US consumers still do not use anti-spyware software, and 18% eschew anti-virus software, Consumer Reports said.