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Online threats: survey shows impact of cybercrime

Internet users in the EU are very concerned about cyber-security, according to a Eurobarometer survey published recently. 76% agree that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime has increased in the past year, more than in a similar study from 2012. 12% of Internet users have already had their social media or email account hacked.

While 70% of internet users across the EU are confident of their ability to use the internet to shop or bank online, only about 50% actually choose to do so. This significant gap shows the negative impact of cybercrime on the digital single market: the two main concerns about such online activities being related tothe misuse of personal data (mentioned by 37%) and the security of online payments (35%).

"This survey shows the destructive impact that cybercrime has on internet use – too many people choose not to take full advantage of all the possibilities that the internet brings us. This hampers both our digital economy and our online lives. We need to strengthen European cooperation, building on the work of the European Cybercrime Centre, to get to the bottom of online organised crime." said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Encouragingly, more EU citizens feel well informed about the risks of cybercrime compared to 2012 (44% - up from 38%). However, it appears that they do not always draw all the necessary consequences from that information. For example, less than half of internet users have changed any of their online passwords during the past year (48% - slightly better than 45% in 2012).

The Eurobarometer survey covers more than 27 000 people in all Member States, and also shows that:

  • 87% respondents avoid disclosing personal information online (slightly down from 89% in 2012).

  • A majority still do not feel well informed about the risks of cybercrime (52% compared with 59% in 2012).

  • 7% have been the victim of credit card or banking fraud online.

  • There has been a significant increase in the numbers of users who access the internet through a smartphone (35%, up from 24% in the past year) or a tablet computer (14%, up from 6%).


The European Commission is working to strengthen EU's overall response to cybercrime and contribute to improving cyber-security for citizens.

The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) launched in January is working towards a collective EU response to the threats from cybercrime (IP/13/13). Cooperation with and assistance to law enforcement agencies from the Member States and beyond are a central priority of the EC3.

In February, the Commission, together with the External Action Service, also adopted a Cybersecurity Strategy for the European Union (IP/13/94 and MEMO/13/71). Priorities in this area include helping Member States to identify and address the gaps in their capacity to fight cybercrime, as well as fostering cooperation between the EC3, Member States and other actors.

Furthermore, in August, the EU adopted new rules boosting Europe's defences against cyber-attacks which include the criminalisation of “botnets”, i.e. networks of infected computers whose processing power is harnessed for cyber-attacks, and other tools used by cybercriminals (MEMO/13/661). It also introduces new aggravating circumstances and higher criminal sanctions, in order to effectively prevent large-scale attacks against information systems. Moreover, the Directive improves cross-border cooperation between the judiciary and the police of EU Member States.

The Eurobarometer survey was carried out between May and June of this year.

Useful Links

The 2013 Eurobarometer on cyber-security

The 2012 survey

Cecilia Malmström's website

Follow Commissioner Malmström on Twitter

DG Home Affairs website

Follow DG Home Affairs on Twitter

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