Four in five fear they are victims of cyber crime
Internet users in Britain have been so alarmed by the increase in cyber crime that more than four in five fear that hackers could have already stolen their personal details.
New research into public opinion on cyber crime, in the wake of the high profile breaches of adultery website Ashley Madison and US retailer Target, found that 81% were fearful that cyber criminals have already stolen data without them realising.
The main reason for this fear was said to be the "unacceptable" amount of time it took businesses to realise and report data breaches, with 73% saying this concerned them.
In 2014, eBay waited over a month before confirming personal information relating to more than 200 million customers had been compromised.
According to the survey by cyber security firm Bit9 + Carbon Black, many consumers believe that fines and stricter punishments should be applied to businesses which are breached.
A total of 59% said fines should be levied on organisations, while 7% said they wanted individuals within businesses to be made culpable for failures - including security officers facing prison time.
David Flower, EMEA general manager at Bit9 + Carbon Black, said: "The data that companies keep about their customers is a highly valuable commodity in today's connected world; providing access to our bank accounts, shopping habits and even our very identity.
"High-profile data breaches at the likes of Target and more recently Ashley Madison have raised public awareness about the risks they are exposed to by the actions of cyber criminals seeking to steal their data.
"Consumers feel that it's taking organisations far too long to detect a breach; if they can detect it at all, which is putting them at unnecessary risk.
"The demands for tougher penalties are an eye-opening indication of the way things could be headed if businesses don't sit up and take note of these concerns."
Internet users said that more detection practices should be in place, with nearly two-thirds (63%) saying that any businesses that store sensitive personal information should keep it under 24-hour surveillance to ensure breaches are detected sooner.