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Cyber crime disproportionately impacts women and BAME people

Byte-size Bulletin by Rachael Brown in Security, News on Oct 4, 2021


Cyber crime has a disproportionate impact on women and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) people, according to a new report.

A new study by Malwarebytes, who offer cyber protection to consumers and businesses, reveals that women and people from BAME backgrounds are disproportionately affected by cyber crime.

Women according to the study are likelier to feel and be unsafer online compared to men.

53% of women, compared to 47% of men, said they did not feel private online. And 35% of women compared to only 27% of men, said they didn't feel safe online.

Women also reported receiving more phishing or otherwise suspicious text messages from unknown numbers, and more instances of having their social media accounts hacked, as well as being significantly more likely to be victims of cyber stalking or revenge porn attacks.

The situation for BAME people was similarly troubling, with only 38% reporting that they felt safe online, compared with 44% of white respondents. The survey did not specifically address issues around online racial harassment, although this is undoubtedly a factor in these numbers.

People of colour were also far more likely to receive phishing texts – often with targeted lures linked to social justice causes such as Black Lives Matter. They were also far more likely than white people to have their social media accounts hacked, or fall victim to identity theft or credit card fraud, and were more likely to feel a financial impact compared to every other group represented in the data.

The report highlights that demographics play a role in both how often people are targeted by cyber criminals, and how they respond to being victimised. Of course, nobody no matter their race and sex are immune to being targeted by cyber crime. But studies like this highlight how trends in digital crime correspond with both existing forms of socioeconomic marginalisation and the digital divide in society.

Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of Malwarebytes commented on this study:

“The disparity between populations feeling safe online and the emotional impact of threats on already vulnerable communities is unacceptable.”

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