The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Half of internet users received fraudulent emails or calls asking for personal details

Albert Galea Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 10:04 Last update: about 4 months ago

Half of Malta’s internet users have received fraudulent emails or phone calls asking for their personal details, such as access to personal computers, logins, banking or payment information, in the last three years.

Results from a survey conducted by the European Commission on the subject of internet security shows that Maltese internet users seem to experience more such fraudulent emails and calls than people from other European countries.

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The results show that 20% out of those who have been on the end of these unwanted emails or calls experienced them three or more times in the last three years.  A further 18% experienced them twice, and another 12% experienced them once.

Other cybercrimes which people reported as having experienced are the discovery of malicious software on a device (29%), accidently coming across material which promotes racial hatred or religious extremism (15%), online fraud where goods are purchased and then not delivered or turn out to be counterfeit or not as advertised (19%), and hacking of a social network or personal email account (10%).

Other lesser encountered instances include the accidentally encountering child pornography online (7%), identify theft (5%), being a victim of bank card or online banking fraud (7%), and being asked for payment in return for getting back control of a device (5%).

In all the aforementioned experiences, save for those involving fraudulent emails or phone calls and goods not being delivered or being counterfeit or not as advertised, the results of Maltese users compared roughly equally or marginally lower than the EU average.

When it comes to concerns with online security, the answer of the respondents tallied with those of their European counterparts. 

76% of Maltese believe that the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime is increasing, 66% are concerned that their online personal information is not kept secure by websites, and 59% or concerned that this same information is not kept secure by public authorities either. 77% of Maltese respondents reported that they avoid disclosing personal information online, while 57% reported that they felt that they are able to protect themselves sufficiently against cyber crime.

17% of all respondents said that they felt very well informed about the risks of cyber crime (compared to a 10% EU average), while 38% said that they felt fairly well informed (compared to a 41% EU average).  19% said that they felt not very well informed and a further 15% said that they felt not informed at all.  A further 11% responded that they did not know how they felt about such risks.

Asked whether they were aware of an official website or e-mail address which can be used to report cybercrime locally, 60% said that they were not aware of any such website or address.  This does tally favourably with the EU average, which is 77%.  27% of respondents said that they were aware of such a website but had never reported a cybercrime while a further 5% said that they were also aware but had reported a cybercrime.  8% of respondents said that they did not know whether they were aware or not of any such websites.

All in all, the survey – which based itself on 505 face-to-face interviews over the course of two weeks between October and November last year – found that 66% of the Maltese population use the internet every day whilst a further 7% reported using it often or sometimes. 19% reported that they never use the internet – a marginally higher rate than the EU average, which stands at 16%.  A further 8% gave a spontaneous answer and said that they have no internet access.

Demographically, internet usage in smaller age groups was found to be on par with or higher than the EU average, but Malta is still lagging behind the average when it comes to the middle and later age brackets.  Indeed, all the respondents who fell into the 15-24 age bracket and 94% of those in the 25-39 bracket said that they use the internet every day.  The EU average for these two brackets is 97% and 94% respectively.

When it comes to the 40-54 bracket 77% said that they use the internet every day, while only 32% of those falling into the 55+ demographic answered in the same manner.  This is 8% and 14% less than the EU average respectively.

The survey revealed that both in Malta and in the EU as a whole, the smartphone has become the most popular device used for accessing the internet.  78% of Maltese internet users in fact reported that they used their smart phone to gain access to the web, while the computer (desktop and portable) closely followed, with 75% of users using them to access the internet as well. 

47% of users meanwhile access the internet using a tablet (a rate which is incidentally 7% higher than the EU average), while a further 16% and 8% use the internet through a television and a gaming console respectively.

 

 

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