Cybercrime disproportionately affects women, teenagers and people of color, according to a report released Monday by the cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes. These groups feel less safe and private on the internet than others and suffer more frequent cyberattacks at greater harm, the report finds.
"This is a story of inequality online," the report reads. "This is the story of how cybercrime hurts some groups more than others, and how, while making the Internet essential for all, we only made it safe for some."
Malwarebytes worked with the nonprofit Digitunity and the Cybercrime Support Network to poll 5,000 people in the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The report reveals that there are "higher rates of social media hacking against younger generations, higher rates of identity theft against BIPOC consumers" and higher rates of unsolicited text messages for women. According to the report, every person polled experienced some form of suspicious activity online, but the frequency and impacts of this activity varied based on demographics.
For example, the report found that 21% of BIPOC consumers had their identities stolen compared to 15% of white consumers. Additionally, while 53% of BIPOC consumers experienced a financial impact from suspicious online activity, only 41% of white respondents did. When it comes to social media, 9% more women than men said they experienced hacking. And overall, women said they feel less safe on the internet than men, at 35% compared to 27%.
The experiences of women and people of color are translating online in a way that mirrors the same types of barriers they face in the real world, the report argues, from theft and stalking to financial fraud.
"People everywhere, no matter their gender, race, income level, education, or age, deserve to feel safe and private online," the report states. "The Internet can be a better place. It's up to us to help make that happen."