EU citizens fear the Internet

Fear is not a good advisor, even when it comes to online trading. unsplash-logoAlexandra Gorn

In 2019, 44% of EU citizens aged between 16 to 74 claimed to have limited their private internet activities in the last 12 months due to security concerns. 26% of population have received phishing messages.


The activity which people mostly avoided because of security concerns was providing personal information to social or professional networking services (25% of population). Security concerns limited or prevented 19% of people from using public WiFi and 17% from downloading software, apps, music, video files, games or other files, while 16% reported having avoided online shopping and 13% internet banking. Communication with public services or administrations (8%) was less affected by security concerns.
This is a drama for the e-commerce industry. Although the sector is growing steadily from year to year, growth rates and use of the Internet are lagging behind the possibilities because EU citizens are still afraid of the new medium. The question is whether this fear is justified. A look at the statistics shows, it is only to a limited extent.


In 2019, 3% of people suffered from fraudulent credit or debit card use, 3% from loss of documents, pictures or other data due to a virus or other computer infection, such as a worm or Trojan horse, and 2% encountered that their social network or e-mail account was hacked and content being posted or sent without the internet user’s knowledge. Only 1% of the EU population (2% of those who used internet in the last 12 months) experienced financial loss resulting from identity theft, fraudulent messages or redirection to fake websites.


The most frightened countries, divided according to fields of crime:
Ordering or buying goods: France (30%), EU (16%)
Internet banking: Spain (20%) EU (13%)
Providing personal information: Finland (37%), EU (25%)
Using public WiFi: Netherlands (37%), EU (19%)

Compared to this, the Countries with real existing security problems:
Fradulent credit or debit card use: Hungary (5%), (EU 3%)
Online Identity theft: UK (3%), EU (1%)
Phishing: Denmark (45%), EU (26%)
Pharming: Malta (26%), EU (13%)
Loss of data: Slovakia (6%), EU (3%)

This comparison shows two things. Firstly, although the number of phishing attacks is high, the stolen data is usually not used to actually make criminal use of it. Secondly, the number of fears is regularly in the high double digits, and the number of actual incidents is in the low single digits, even in the top countries. The dangers associated with the Internet are therefore greatly overestimated. This causes massive damage to the economy.

The expected e-commerce turnover in Europe for 2020 is 347 billion euros. The turnover in this segment could exceed 400 billion euros.

This information, consists of and includes data issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, which is part of the results of the survey conducted in 2019 on ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) usage in households and by individuals.