What Cybercriminals Want from Us Is Very Different from What We Think Cybercriminals Want from Us


April 25, 2024

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What Cybercriminals Want from Us Is Very Different from What We Think Cybercriminals Want from Us

People firmly believe they know what hackers are after, but the reality is that regular people and hackers value very different things, which is likely one reasons cybercrime has such success.

Whether we accept it or not, consumers have a lot of personal data that needs guarding, but we might not be good enough to recognize what is actually essential and where we should focus our attention and efforts.

Multiple factors skew what people perceive as critical information. While it sometimes juxtaposes what criminals want to take from us, the Bitdefender 2024 Consumer Cybersecurity Assessment Report reveals a different picture than what we intuitively think is true. It can serve as a guide for future decisions regarding our data protection.

Common sense is not always helpful

Our common sense often informs our cybersecurity decisions, but it is not always right. What criminals want from us and what we think criminals want from us are surprisingly different in a few aspects.

We asked a simple question: “When it comes to what matters most to you online what are you most concerned about protecting from a hacker, if anything?”

As expected, financial information was cited by 47.8% of respondents, followed by identity theft (17%), email (17%), photos (6.4%), doxxing / extortion (5.4%), account takeover (4.9%), health information (3.4%), and other (0.4%).

There’s no denying that financial information is a hot commodity if we look at the most common attacks we see today in our telemetry. For example, we’re bombarded with SMS messages that seek to steal financial information via phishing campaigns or convincing potential victims to install malware that aims to do the same thing. It’s easy to understand why people would place financial data and theft at the top of their worries.

But there’s another side to that coin. What attracts attackers? If we look at what’s happening worldwide almost daily, we observe that health information is an incredibly hot commodity among criminals. Hospitals, clinics and other organizations in the health industry are often hit with ransomware attacks, with data theft as a prelude. People’s health information is used as leverage to force ransomware payments and often ends up on the dark web.

Our survey shows the exact opposite. Health information comes in dead last as survey respondents place little value on it. People also don’t seem to place great value on their social media accounts or even their photos. Not even identities are thought as valuable, with only 17% of respondents believing it to be genuinely at risk.

Our common sense could also lead us to draw the wrong conclusion if we look closely at age groups. The younger generations worry slightly more about having their photos stolen – but still wouldn’t cite it as their biggest fear. Over half of respondents aged 55+ said, when it comes to what matters most to them online, they are most concerned about protecting the “financial” area (bank account, credit cards, investment accounts and/or monetary theft) from a hacker – in contrast to over a third (35%) of those aged 16-24 who said the same.

Health information is almost always dead last, no matter the age group, which means that people tend to underestimate the dangers.

Keeping your digital life safe is a process that necessitates multiplayer layers of protection. It’s helpful to have security on all devices, and there’s a plethora of Bitdefender products that cover all platforms and needs.

But it’s also important to protect your information, which is harder to do without help. This is where Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection helps consumers guard their data by checking for compromised accounts, exposed passwords and other sensitive information to protect people from identity theft.

Be sure to download the free 2024 Consumer Cybersecurity Assessment Report for the full range of findings in our survey.

Download the Bitdefender Consumer Cybersecurity Assessment Report




Silviu is a seasoned writer who followed the technology world for almost two decades, covering topics ranging from software to hardware and everything in between.

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