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Americans Fear Hacking (Much) More Than Murder

October 29, 2014 - Written By David Steele

This Friday, I was originally planning on coming into work dressed as Tim Cook, but then I realised that not only is this too subtle for most of my colleagues, Tim isn’t especially menacing or scary to us Android fans. No, instead it seems I would be better off dressing as a computer hacker. Of course, typing in, “what does a computer hacker look like?” caused some discussion in the office but that’s another story. And the reason why dressing up as a hacker is a good idea? Because two out of three Americans fear having their credit card information stolen at least occasionally, according to a poll organized by Gallup. 62% of Americans fear having their other personal information stolen from their computer or smartphone. Conversely, less than half of Americans worried about having their home burgled and under 20% were worried about being murdered.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise given the high profile hacking stories that we’ve seen over the summer months. iCloud’s account hacks and subsequent picture leaks plus the more recent Snapchat image database being accessible online capture appear to impact far more people than having your home broken into. We’ve also seen American retail chains reporting the hacking of shoppers’ credit card information.

Now of course; are we fearful of a realistic risk? Cybercrime is one of the few crimes that’s consistently risen in the last twenty years, but this statistic may be misleading because it doesn’t necessarily take into account the volume of cyberbusiness and information kept in electronic means. In 2005, by way of example, two out of three businesses had reported an instance of cybercrime. Let’s also not forget how quickly the smartphone has become the centre of our modern life; many of us use our smartphones for our communication needs, banking, photography and similar. Losing this would be like losing a limb; having our precious personal information lost or compromised is a nightmare scenario for many of us.

Reports of identity theft is another type of crime that’s on the rise, but this is a very broad reaching type of crime. Having ones iCloud account hacked by guessing the password could be considered a form of identity theft. Suddenly, dressing up as Tim Cook doesn’t seem such a bad idea for Halloween.