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Norton Study: 65 Percent Of Internet Users Are Cybercrime Victims

A Symantec Norton report, illuminating the personal toll that cybercrime takes on victims, revealed that two-thirds of Internet users worldwide and three quarters of U.S. users, have fallen prey to a cyber attack.

The report accompanied two simultaneous Symantec consumer product launches, Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus 2011, released Wednesday.

The study, "The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact," which examined the personal toll that cybercrime has on a group of 7,000 Web users worldwide, indicated that a 65 percent total of Internet users -- and 73 percent of Internet users in the U.S. -- have at some point been victims of a cyber attack, which includes computer viruses and malware, online credit card fraud and identity theft. The U.S. was the fourth most victimized nation, following China, at 83 percent, and Brazil and India, both of which registered 76 percent.

Altogether, 58 percent of victims reported that they felt angry, while 51 percent said they were annoyed and another 40 percent said they felt cheated, following the attack. Often they said they blamed themselves for allowing the incident to happen. Only 3 percent said that they didn't think that a cyber attack would happen to them.

Meanwhile, nearly 80 percent of those polled said that they didn’t expect that cyber attackers would be brought to justice, which experts said led to an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

"We accept cybercrime because of a learned helplessness," said Joseph LaBrie, associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University, in a statement. "It's like getting ripped off at a garage -- if you don't know enough about cars, you don't argue with the mechanic. People just accept situation, even if it feels bad."

However, despite the growing prevalence of cybercrime, users reported that they aren't changing their online behaviors. About half of adults -- 51 percent -- said that they would consider changing their activities online if they discovered they were a cybercrime victim, while 44 percent said they likely wouldn't report the attack to the police.

Much of the deterrence comes in the amount of time it takes to resolve cybercrime, according to 28 percent of those surveyed in the report. It takes an average of 28 days to resolve a cyber attack, with an average cost of $334.

"We all pay for cybercrime, either directly or through pass-along costs from our financial institutions," said Adam Palmer, Norton lead cyber security advisor, in a statement. "Cybercriminals purposely steal small amounts to remain undetected, but all of these add up. If you fail to report a loss, you may actually be helping the criminal stay under the radar."

While controlling the occurrence of cybercrime is not always within the user's control, there are some preventative measures that users can take to help reduce the chances of becoming a victim. Among other things, users need to ensure that their computer is updated with the latest security software, experts say.

Not coincidentally, Symantec issued the report on the same day it released the latest versions of its flagship consumer antivirus products, Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus 2011.

Included in the new Norton offerings is a Norton Power Eraser, designed to target and eliminate fake antivirus or "scareware" applications, which use fear mongering tactics to force users to install and purchase bogus antivirus software.

Altogether, the new Norton 2011 products feature reputation-based security, proactive alerts that notify users when performance is being overextended, system checks that scan the safety of downloaded files, zero-day protection against emerging threats and suspicious software, and a bootable recovery tool that allows users to boot a PC into a safe state when it is deeply infected with a rootkit or other malware.

Additional free tools include the Norton Safe Web Lite, a downloadable toolbar designed to identify risky sites before they're opened in search results, as well as Norton Safe Web for Facebook, which scans the social networking sites news feeds to detect unsafe links.

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