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CYBERCRIME TAKES ITS TOLL

Created: 05 Nov 2013 • Updated: 05 Nov 2013
Andy Horbury's picture
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For anyone intent on finding out exactly what the worldwide impact of cybercrime is now – and the price we are all paying as it penetrates every corner of the global markets – there can be no better starting point than the 2013 Norton Cybercrime Report[1].

The findings are both eye-opening and deeply concerning. According to the report, some 1 million-plus adults become cybercrime victims every single day and, if you break that down, it equates to a staggering 12 victims per second.

This annual report, commissioned by Symantec[2], is focused on understanding exactly how cybercrime affects consumers (more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries took part in the 2013 survey) and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts their overall security.

And what an impact that turns out to be, with the global price tag of consumer cybercrime now topping US$113 billion annually – enough to host the 2012 London Olympics nearly 10 times over –  while the cost per cybercrime victim has shot up to USD$298: a 50% increase over 2012. In terms of the number of victims of such attacks, that’s 378 million per year – averaging 1 million plus per day.[3] Speaking of the Olympics: BT security chief executive officer Mark Hughes, in a presentation at the recent RSA conference, said that no (successful) cyber-attack had occurred during the Games. Quite an achievement, considering BT dealt with over 212 million cyber-attacks on the official website during last year's Olympic and Paralympic Games.

PAYING THE PRICE

According to the report, 83% of direct financial costs are a result of fraud, repairs, theft and loss. Equally worrying is how deeply cybercrime is etching its mark across each and every continent.

In North America, the percentage hit by these attacks was 63% in the USA (at a cost of US$38 bn), while, in Canada, it was even higher, at 68% (cost: US$3 bn)

In Central America-Latin America (CALA), the figures were no less alarming: Brazil 60% (cost: US$8 bn); Mexico 71(US$3 bn); and Colombia 64% (US$0.5 bn)

In the Middle East, the worst affected countries were Saudi Arabia (62% - US$0.5 bn) and the UAE (71% - US$0.3 bn).

THE VICTIMS

What makes this even more concerning is that, as our channels and means of communication expand, cybercrime is seizing on the opportunity, spreading across the world with the speed and ferocity of a pandemic. Well over a third (38%) of those surveyed have experienced mobile cybercrime in the past 12 months, the main victims being:

  • Social network users – 63%
  • Public/unsecured Wi-Fi users – 68%
  • Emerging market – 68%
  • Parent of children 8-17 – 65%.

Half (50%) of all online adults have been victims of cybercrime and/or negative online situations in the past year, the report confirms, while 41% have fallen victim to attacks such as malware, viruses, hacking, scams, fraud and theft.

PUBLIC/UNSECURED WI-FI

As far as public/unsecured Wi-Fi is concerned, the statistics relating to potentially risky behaviour are particularly disturbing:

  • 56% access their social network account
  • 54% access personal email
  • 29% access their bank accounts
  • 29% shop online
  • 30% do not always log off after having used a public Wi-Fi connection
  • 39% do not take any special steps to protect themselves when using public Wi-Fi.

The cybercriminals must be equally encouraged at the response to their full-on assaults when it comes to mobile devices – because the 2013 Norton Cybercrime Report also reveals that nearly a half of respondents don’t use basic precautions, such as passwords, security software or back-up files.

On the plus side, when it comes to their PCs:

  • 90% do delete suspicious emails from people they don’t know
  • 72% have at least a basic free antivirus solution
  • 78% avoid storing sensitive files online.

However, that still means more than a quarter DON’T appear to have any antivirus protection at all, while almost a quarter DO store sensitive files on line.

CONVENIENCE OVER SAFETY

Why is safety on line treated so indifferently by so many people? According to the 2013 Norton Cybercrime Report: “Many consumers are making a conscious decision to trade their safety for convenience; many more are unaware that they’re making the same trade.”

What the report highlights most of all is that the need to stay safe at all times has never been greater. Moreover, ‘constantly connected, doesn’t have to equal ‘constantly at risk’, it points out. The tools and solutions are readily to hand to ensure that you are always protected. And here are some ‘Top Tips’ from the report on how to defend your data:

  • A comprehensive security suite provides a strong defence against online threats. Norton 360 multi-device offers protection for PCs, smartphones and tablets, in a single solution
  • Be cautious in the cloud. While cloud storage solutions make it easy to save and share files, they also open other avenues for attack
  • Be careful about who has access to your files and use a solution with built-in security, if possible
  • Save sensitive transactions for secure connections
  • Free or unsecured Wi-Fi networks can make it easy for thieves to eavesdrop on your activity
  • Avoid conducting sensitive transactions, such as banking or shopping, while connected to these networks, or use a personal VPN client
  • After you connect, double check!
  • Check credit card and bank statements regularly for fraudulent transactions, and report any suspicious activity to your provider and/or law enforcement.
  • And, of course, when shopping online or signing into webmail or social networks, look for https, The Norton Secured Seal and the Extended Validation ‘green bar’.

Failing to ensure this means the cybercriminals will only go from strength to strength, leaving an ever greater trail of destruction in their wake. And even more victims.

For more information on how to stay safe and secure online, visit https://www.staysecureonline.com/


[1] 2013 Norton Cybercrime Report: go.symantec.com/norton-report-2013 (Direct link to PPT of the report)

[2] Research conducted Edelman Berland.

[3] Online adults per country x % cybercrime victims past 12 months per country = 377,943,431 (sum of 24 countries).