Connecticut is among the 25 states that have seen residents lose the most as targets of criminal activity on Cyber Monday, the busiest on-line day of the year, according to a new analysis released just before this year’s edition of the annual on-line shopping spree known as CyberMonday. OpenVPN, Inc. released details on a groundbreaking study that ranks how age, sex and where an individual lives could predict their likelihood to become a target of criminal activity on Cyber Monday.
"Connecticut is generally thought of as a very safe state with low crime rates. That's the unique thing about cybercrime and identity theft - you can live in the nicest house on the block and still be very vulnerable," says Francis Dinha, CEO of OpenVPN.
California is ranked the worst state in the country for total reported cybercrimes, fraud, and identity theft per capita in 2015 and 2016. Connecticut was the 21st worst in the analysis, just about in the middle of the pack.
The study data was culled from the FBI’s IC3, or Internet Crime Complaint Center, as well as the federal government’s Consumer Sentinel Network (CNS) databases.
In 2016, the state’s residents lost $6,960,531 total to internet crime, an average of $2,734.98 per person. Overall, 28,595 state residents reported cybercrime of some sort in 2016 — mainly men and people in their 50’s, the study found. Internet crime complaints totaled 2,545, total fraud complaints reached 21,117 and identity theft complaints totaled 4,933, according to the data compiled.
"Connecticut follows national trends in that more men than women are victimized, and older individuals have been more deeply affected,” Dinha added. “OpenVPN encourages all Connecticut citizens to educate themselves about how cybercriminals gain access to private information and stay safe this Cyber Monday."
“What came as a surprise in this report,” said Gary McCloud, VP of Business Development for OpenVPN, “Is that men actually fall victim to cybercrime 75 percent more often than women.”
Men and women have different shopping habits. The study noted that men actually spend more than women online, so that fact alone may the reason men fell victim to cybercrime more often to women - and may continue to do so. In fact, men fell victim to cybercrime more 75 percent more often than women—falling victim in 38 of America’s 50 states – including Connecticut - and Washington D.C.
The state’s male ranking is seventh worst among the states, female ranking is fourteenth worst. By age group, the state’s best showing is among those age 20-29, ranking Connecticut 28th among the states; the worst showing, a ranking of 13th, in the 50-59 year old age group.
The safest states cited in the study include South Dakota, North Dakota, West Virginia and Maine, with Vermont ranking as the safest at #51. The worst states were California, Florida, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Arizona and Virginia.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia were ranked from most to least total victims of cybercrime, equally weighted per 100,000 people for the total number of internet crime victims, fraud victims, and identity theft victims. The study also took into account the average dollar loss per victim of internet crime and average dollar loss per victim of fraud.
Among the recommendations to improve safety and deter cybercrime:
- Do NOT use a public wifi signal unless you have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which will encrypt information on your computer, hiding it from online predators.
- If shopping from home, make certain your home wifi signal is password-protected. Otherwise, someone simply driving down the street could access the private information on your computer.
- When shopping online, look for verification you’re on a secured site. This may be something as simple as a padlock in your internet window.
- When possible, use a credit card as opposed to a debit card which is linked directly to your bank account.
All of the data used for total cybercrime compilations based on age and gender was pulled from the 2015 FBI crime database; 2016 was not available.