SA consumer cybercrime at R3.7bn annually

The 2012 edition of the Norton Cybercrime Report calculates the direct costs associated with global consumer cybercrime at $110 billion over the past twelve months. In South Africa, the costs for the same period amount to R3.7 billion.

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. The losses amount to an average of US $197 per victim across the world, and R1,550 per victim in South Africa.

In the past twelve months, an estimated 556 million adults across the world (with 2.39 million in South Africa) experienced cybercrime, Norton said.

This, it added, represents 46% of online adults (64% in South Africa) who have been victims of cybercrime in the past twelve months, on par with the findings from 2011 (45%).

The 2012 survey showed 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.

One in five online adults (21%), globally, and almost one in three (28%) in South Africa have been a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, and 39% (48% in South Africa) of social network users have been victims of social cybercrime, specifically:

  • 15%(15% in South Africa) of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them;
  • 1 in 10 social network users (almost one in five in South Africa) said they’d fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms;
  • While 75% believe that cybercriminals are setting their sights on social networks, less than half (44%) actually use a security solution which protects them from social network threats and only 49% use the privacy settings to control what information they share, and with whom;
  • Nearly one-third (31%) of mobile users globally and almost half (47%) in South Africa 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,” said 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 2011from the year before.”

The 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report also revealed that most Internet users take the basic steps to protect themselves and their personal information – such as deleting suspicious emails and being careful with their personal details online.

However, other core precautions are being ignored: 40% don’t use complex passwords or change their passwords frequently, and more than a third do not check for the padlock symbol in the browser before entering sensitive personal information, such as banking details, online.

“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,” said Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor.

“Protect your email accordingly by using complex passwords and changing them regularly.”

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SA consumer cybercrime at R3.7bn annually