Every second internet user in Germany fell victim to cybercrime last year, the Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a survey published by the German digital association Bitkom.
According to the survey's findings, the most frequent complaint made by users was the "illegal use of their personal data as well as the passing on of their data to third parties," as reported by Xinhua.
The representative survey of 1,000 internet users revealed that 23 per cent of respondents were affected by such unlawful practices.
"The Internet is highly attractive to criminals", because criminals can harm users to their own advantage with "comparatively little effort," the news agency quoted Bitkom CEO Bernhard Rohleder as saying.
The survey results also revealed that 12 per cent of respondents were subjected to fraud during online buying and selling. Eleven per cent said "their account data has been misused", Xinhua reported.
According to Bitkom, verbal attacks or insults, however, occurred much less frequently compared to real world interactions between people.
"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," Xinhua said while citing the survey's findings.
The survey results also showed that sexual harassment was more rampant in the offline world. Fourteen per cent respondents said they had been sexually harassed last year, while only 8 per cent experienced such harassment online, according to Xinhua.
"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," said Bitkom CEO Rohleder.
Bitkom has recommended users take various measures such as the use of complex passwords which include a combination of numbers and capitalisation. Also, Bitkom supports the use of password managers that store all passwords in an encrypted format, Xinhua reported.
"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," said Rohleder
"Even simple measures can make data misuse or identity theft more difficult", the CEO concluded.