US consumers have lost more than $7 billion to viruses, spyware and e-mail phishing scams over the past two years, according to new research released by Consumer Reports.
The research - which is based on CR's 2007 "State of the Net" survey of more than 2000 households with Internet access - predicts that a million victims have lost money to e-mail phishing scams in the past two years. The median cost of a phishing incident is $200.
Around eight per cent of respondents have submitted personal data in response to conventional phishing e-mails in the past two years - a number that has remained unchanged over the past two years.
Furthermore scammers' tactics are improving - says CR, with phishing e-mails now looking more convincing with better grammar, more believable stories and authentic-looking Web addresses.
Based on the survey, Consumer Reports projects that problems caused by viruses and spyware resulted in damages of at least $5 billion replacement over the past two years.
However the CR research found that a third of respondents (33%) did not use software to block or remove spyware. Furthermore, CR projects that 3.7 million US households with broadband remain unprotected by a firewall.