The Internet Fear Index is on the rise

Two new surveys show that global Internet users are considering online espionage as the biggest threat to freedom and hacking as the crime most being feared of.

Fear Factor

Top secret files leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden had revealed last year that the U.S. National Security Agency had carried out digital surveillance in Germany. According to Snowden, the NSA had collected about half a billion communications each month from Germany. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and various leading German politicians were also targeted by the NSA surveillance, according to reports by Bild newspaper and weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

As time progresses since those revelations made public, the storm refuses to die. And According to a recent survey, it seems that the Germans are much conscious and afraid about internet spying, then ever before.

The results of the survey, conducted by the John Stuart Mill Institute and the Allensbach Institute, show that 67 percent of Germans view surveillance of their Internet activity by foreign secret services as the biggest threat to their freedom.
Control of Internet companies ranked second on the list of threats to freedom, with 61 percent of Germans concerned about these firms sharing their personal data with governments. And the third place in the list of threats to freedom goes again to private companies sharing their user data with other private companies, with 61 percent of Germans expressing fears. International terrorism ranked as only the fourth largest threat to freedom, with 60 percent of citizens feeling threatened.

A massive majority of the Germans, 73 percent of them, said they did not trust private companies not to abuse their personal information, while 59 percent did not trust the state. Interestingly, Just 36 percent said that they themselves often traded away their information carelessly online, but 79 percent said that "many people" did. Just goes to show how wrong we can all be about our own security behavior.

The Fear Factor

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the US, fears are also soring regarding the internet. A Gallup survey published this week shows that the crime Americans fear the most is having their credit card information stolen by hackers. More than murder, more than rape, more than any other violent crime, 69 percent of U.S. residents worry “frequently” or “occasionally” about computer hackers stealing their credit card information from stores.

The second most-feared crime in America, according to the survey, is having a phone or computer hacked to steal personal information. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they worried at least “occasionally” about it. These results join the German poll from the beginning of the month in demonstrating how fears of cybercrime and spying are growing globally. The US public already showed last year (in a survey conducted for the Computer & Communications Industry Association), that US Internet users are far more worried about computer hacking and theft of personal information than about online privacy and tracking by marketers. In both cases, the growing worries and fears show that users are seeking protection worldwide against espionage and hacking. A good place to start protecting themselves would be right here, with Zenamte Browser plugins and Zenamte mobile.

So what worries you the most: espionage? Credit card theft? Or private data exposed?