Release date 05/04/2009
YONKERS, NY — It continues to be a boom time for cybercrime according to the latest Consumer Reports National Research Center “State of the Net” survey. Consumer Reports found that one in five online consumers have been victims of cybercrime in the last two years to the tune of an estimated $8 billion dollars. And the overall rate of the crime has remained consistent over the five years that Consumer Reports has been tracking.
But Consumer Reports notes that the problem stands to get worse as rising unemployment and foreclosures fuel a wave of recession-orientated Internet scams, and as the popularity of social networking services grow, creating more openings for identity thieves. Consumer Reports found that 13 percent of social-network users experienced some form of abuse.
Additionally, Consumer Reports estimates that 1.2 million consumers have had to replace their computers over the past two years due to software infections and an estimated 3.7 million households with broadband Internet access did not use a firewall to protect against hackers. Below are additional findings related to major online threats:
Certain online threats are almost as prevalent today as when Consumer Reports conducted its first survey five years ago. Consistent with last year’s findings, 1 in 3 respondents had heavy levels of spam and 1 in 7 have had serious problems with viruses.
Security Software: Free Software Programs Match the Best Pay Products
Consumer Reports State of the Net survey found that 35 percent of U.S. households didn’t use software to guard against inadvertently downloading “badware,” and 18 percent didn’t use a program to block potentially destructive online viruses. Cost should not be a concern to have an unprotected computer. Through testing, Consumer Reports found that free programs available to protect against viruses, badware, and unwanted spam were on par with the best pay suites tested.
Of the seven free programs Consumer Reports tested this year, the top three no-cost performers from last year performed the best again: Avira AntiVir Antivirus Personal, Microsoft Windows Defender and Spamfighter Standard. What’s more, each was better than their former version.
For maximum antivirus protection, Consumer Reports recommends the Eset Smart Security, $90, as well as the features-packed McAfee Internet Security, $70, and the Symantec Norton Internet Security, $60, for its ability to detect badware and provide information about those threats.
When looking to select a security system, Consumer Reports suggests the following guidelines:
The latest issue of Consumer Reports also includes Ratings on 31 laptop, 27 desktop, and six netbook computers. The report also includes a look back on a year of online threats and an investigation into corporate and federal culpability in cyberspace. For more information on the State of the Net survey and the entire computer protection package, check out the June issue of Consumer Reports or visit www.consumerreports.org.
The Consumer Reports’ 2009 “State of the Net” survey was conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center using a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 households with Internet access.