BERLIN, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Every second internet user had been a victim of cybercrime last year, a survey published by the German digital association Bitkom showed on Wednesday.
German online users most frequently complain was the illegal use of their personal data as well as the passing on of their data to third parties. Twenty-three percent of respondents were affected by such illegal practices, according to the representative survey of 1,000 internet users.
"The Internet is highly attractive to criminals", because criminals can harm users to their own advantage with "comparatively little effort," says Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder.
Online shopping and selling has seen 12 percent of respondents being cheated when making private purchases. Eleven percent stated that their account data has been misused.
According to Bitkom, verbal attacks or insults happen less often online than in the real world. Only one in ten respondents said that they had been verbally attacked or insulted on the internet while almost one in four people in analogue life had been subject to verbal abuses.
Sexual harassment is also more prominent outside the internet. In the offline world, 14 percent reported to have been subject to sexual harassment last year, while only 8 percent experienced such harassment online.
"As in analog life, there are also many dangers in the Internet. In order to combat cybercrime effectively, the government agencies must be better equipped - both technologically and in terms of personnel," says Rohleder.
In order to protect against cybercrime, Bitkom suggests various measures such as using complex passwords that include numbers and different capitalization. Also, Bitkom supports the use of password managers that store all passwords in an encrypted format.
Malware software should be updated regularly and users should use "common sense" and pay special attention to phishing mails that seek to retrieve users' passwords, bank details and confidential information.
"Even simple measures can make data misuse or identity theft more difficult", Bitkom CEO Rohleder concludes.