86% of consumers experience cyber crime amid coronavirus pandemic

Woman shopping online

Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting consumers as online shopping grows in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to OpSec’s Annual Consumer Barometer survey, identity theft, credit card fraud or a data breach has hit 86% of consumers over the past few months. That’s a 6-percentage-point increase over the number of consumers who fell victim to these cyber incidents in 2019.

With Black Friday and Christmas fast approaching, most people are worried about shopping online due to growing cyber crime. The survey found people are less confident when purchasing items through apps (53%), online marketplaces (55%) and social media advertisements (26%).

Most people have two major concerns when shopping online: 63% fear cyber criminals accessing their personal data, while 58% are concerned scammers will take their cash.

Cybercrime grows with e-commerce

The survey shows people have spent more time shopping online during the pandemic. In fact, 37% of respondents revealed they’re using e-commerce sites to purchase groceries more frequently due to COVID-19. Out of these, 14% said their online grocery shopping had increased significantly in this period.

As online shopping grows exponentially, cybercriminals are taking advantage of this trend. Over half of consumers (51%) have seen more phishing campaigns, consequently.

Bill Birnie, SVP of OpSec Security and general manager OpSec Online, said, “There is a small but noticeable increase in how many consumers have fallen victim to cyberattacks compared to last year, and this is reflected in reduced confidence from consumers in making purchases via digital channels.“

“This highlights the impact negative online experiences can have on brand perception, and now more than ever, with so much of our day-to-day lives being conducted online, brands need to be doing more to ease these worries and give reassurance that they have the safeguards in place to protect consumers from cyberthreats.”

Taking action

While cyber crime continues to grow, consumers are taking several steps to ensure e-commerce websites are safe to use.

To help verify e-commerce sites’ security, over half of the respondents (54%) check for a reputable brand name, 23% look at a brand’s social media profiles, and 46% see if e-commerce sites have an SSL certificate.

But what’s concerning is 10% of consumers don’t evaluate the trustworthiness of e-commerce sites at all, putting them more at risk.

Birnie added, “It’s clear that there needs to be more education around how to shop safely online, and brands must be proactive here. For example, cybercriminals can still simply sign up for a free 90-day SSL certificate for their website to give it a fake air of legitimacy, which many consumers are likely to be unaware of.

“As the increased use of online services is likely to drive long-term changes in consumerism, companies must engage expert partners to put protective steps in place to lessen possible attacks on their customers and maintain that all-important customer trust.”

Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter.