Norton by Symantec has released the findings of its annual Norton Cybercrime Report, one of the world’s largest consumer cybercrime studies.
The study is aimed at understanding how cybercrime affects consumers, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts people’s security. With findings based on self-reported experiences of more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries, the 2012 edition of the Norton Cybercrime Report calculates the direct costs associated with global consumer cybercrime at US$ 110 billion over the past twelve months.
Previous reports came under fire when analysts claimed these numbers were too high. When asked about this David Freer, VP Consumer APJ, Norton by Symantec said the numbers come from self-reported direct financial costs and losses as a result of cybercrime incidents, such as fraud, theft, loss and repairs.
Findings are extrapolations based upon results from a survey conducted in 24 countries among adults 18-64. The financial cost of cybercrime in the last year is calculated as the number of victims over past 12 months (per country) times the US$ 197 average financial cost of cybercrime.
The company says the 556 million victims number in 24 countries over past 12 months comes from latest research from NCR showing 67% of adults in 24 countries have been a victim of cybercrime ever and of these 46% have been a victim in the past 12 months. The online population per country comes from the CIA World Factbook) times the rate of cybercrime ever per country times percentage of cybercrime past 12 months per country.
In New Zealand Norton by Symantec says it is estimated that more than 900,000 people fell victim to cybercrime in the past twelve months, suffering NZ $462.9 million (US $370 million) in direct financial losses. This figure represents 39 percent of of online New Zealand adults who have been victims of cybercrime in the past twelve months.
The report points out that every second, 18 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than one-and-a-half million cybercrime victims each day on a global level – with losses totaling an average of US $197 per victim across the world in direct financial costs.
This year’s survey shows an increase in “new” forms of cybercrime compared to last year, such as those found on social networks or mobile devices - a sign that cybercriminals are starting to focus their efforts on these increasingly popular platforms. On the 24 countries in the study one in five online adults (21 percent) has been a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, and 16 percent of social network users in New Zealand have been victims of social cybercrime, specifically:
• 13 percent of New Zealand social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them.
• 1 in 10 New Zealand social network users said they’d fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms.
• Almost 1 in 5 (19 percent) of New Zealand mobile users received a text message from someone they didn’t know requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a “voicemail”.
“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” says Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “This mirrors what we saw in this year’s Symantec Internet Security Threat Report which reported nearly twice the mobile vulnerabilities in 2011 from the year before.”
The 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report also reveals that most New Zealand Internet users take the basic steps to protect themselves and their personal information - such as deleting suspicious emails (91 percent) and being careful with their personal details online (81 percent).
However, other core precautions are being ignored. This year’s report also indicates that many online adults are unaware as to how some of the most common forms of cybercrime have evolved over the years and thus have a difficult time recognising how malware, such as viruses, act on their computer.
“Malware and viruses used to wreak obvious havoc on your computer,” Merritt continues. “You’d get a blue screen, or your computer would crash, alerting you to an infection. But cybercriminals’ methods have evolved; they want to avoid detection as long as possible. This year’s results show that nearly half of Internet users believe that unless their computer crashes or malfunctions, they’re not 100 percent sure they’ve fallen victim to such an attack.”
Nearly one fifth (19 percent) of online adults in New Zealand report having been notified to change their password for a compromised email account. With people sending, receiving, and storing everything from personal photos (45 percent) to work-related correspondence and documents (36 percent) to bank statements (19 percent) and passwords for other online accounts (13 percent), those email accounts can be a potential gateway for criminals looking for personal and corporate information.
“Personal email accounts often contain the keys to your online kingdom. Not only can criminals gain access to everything in your inbox, they can also reset your passwords for any other online site you may use by clicking the ‘forgot your password’ link, intercepting those emails and effectively locking you out of your own accounts,” says Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor. “Protect your email accordingly by using complex passwords and changing them regularly.”