Cybercrime: New survey shows Europeans feel better informed but remain concerned

Today, the Commission releases its latest survey on Europeans’ attitudes towards cybercrime.

The results show that awareness of cybercrime is rising, with 52% of respondents stating they are fairly well or very well informed about cybercrime, up from 46% in 2017. Europeans are however growing less confident about their capacity to stay safe online: 59% of Internet users think they can protect themselves sufficiently against cybercrime, down from 71% in 2017.

Respondents worry about misuse of their personal data, fraud, being locked out of their computer and forced to pay ransom to access their own data, as well as about identity theft. More than a third have received fraudulent emails or phone calls asking for personal details in the last three years; 8% fell victim to ransomware, and 11% had their social media account or email account hacked. This has an impact on their willingness to use online services: for example, 10% say their concerns make them less likely to make purchases online.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said: “Fighting cybercrime is a key part of our work towards building a Union that protects its citizens. Cybercriminals know no borders. This is why we will continue to support cooperation and exchange of information between law enforcement authorities and make sure they have the right tools and skills to address the challenges of the digital age.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson added: “We need to do more to raise awareness about threats and about ways to stay safe online, but we cannot stop at prevention alone. We need to close the growing gap between capabilities of criminals and those of law enforcement authorities. This will be one of the priorities in our new way forward on internal security.

Keeping Europeans safe online is a priority for the Commission. The EU has advanced in the fight against cybercrime, with for instance stronger rules against online payment fraud and better assistance to victims. The EU also helps building up the capacity of law enforcement authorities to tackle cybercrime, with the European Cybercrime Centre at Europol supporting Member States by providing tools, expertise, and coordination of police action. More generally, the EU supports Member States’ cybersecurity preparedness and promotes swift and effective cooperation on cybersecurity issues, through a comprehensive legal framework including the Directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive), the EU Cybersecurity Act, the European Blueprintfor coordinated response to large-scale cybersecurity incidents and the Recommendation on cybersecurity of 5G networks. This legal framework helps foster cooperation among Member States and protect critical infrastructure, businesses and citizens as well as enhance the EU’s ability to protect itself against attacks by malicious actors and to deal with emerging cybersecurity risks. In addition, through its research and innovation funding programmes the European Commission is investing billions of euros in cybersecurity research, infrastructure and deployment.