A report published by cybersecurity company Surfshark has highlighted South Africa ranking 6th in the world regarding cybercrime density – which costs the country an estimated R2.2 billion annually.
According to the director of Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg, Basie von Solms, Cybercrime is the biggest form of crime in the world at the moment, even surpassing drug trafficking and illegal arms dealing.
Surfshark’s cybercrime report for 2021 showed that South Africa had 52 cybercrime victims per one million internet users, with other countries showing even more alarming numbers. The top-ranking country was the UK, with a whopping 4,783 victims per one million users – followed by the US (1,494/1m), Canada (174/1m), Australia (102/1m) and Greece (72/1m).
Additional data from The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) shows that total gross losses in digital banking in South Africa have increased by 45%, while debit card fraud accounted for 55.3% of all card fraud, and sim-swap fraud increased by 63% in 2021.
“As more of our lives become digital, the chances of falling victim to online crimes grow every year. Since 2001, the online crime victim count increased 17 times, and financial losses grew more than 400 times, from R37,000 to R14.4 million losses per hour,” said Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis.
Naturally, this trend is expected to worsen as the world becomes more digitally inclined, with the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2022 noting that Cybersecurity failures have increased by 12.4% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result, the report ranked cybercrime among the top 10 global risks for the future, listing it above infectious diseases, stagflation, and human environmental damage – estimating that cybercrime will cost the world $10.5 trillion (R192 trillion) annually by 2025.
The prevalence of cybercrime is further evident in Surfshark’s report on global data breaches in Q3 of 2022, which shows that global data breaches are continuing to climb, with Q3 giving rise to the most data breaches this year.
“In the last three months alone, a total of 108.9 million accounts were breached globally, meaning that 14 accounts were leaked every second, as opposed to 8 per second in Q2,” the company said, adding that this means quarter-on-quarter breach rates have increased by an alarming 70%.
According to Surfshark’s study, phishing continues to be the most common cybercrime for the third year in a row. In 2021, there were 323,972 phishing victims. In other words, every second individual who falls for an online crime falls for a phishing attack.
However, on average, phishing victims lost the least amount of money – $136 (R2500) per victim – while people who fell victim to investment fraud lost the most with $70,811 (R1.3 million) per victim on average.
Tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime
During the Nedbank Treasurers’ Conference 2022, Chief Information Security Officer Christine Gordon-Bennett shared some of the abovementioned statistics on Cybercrime, giving a brief summary of what South Africans can do to mitigate the risks of falling victim to cybercriminals.
Gordon-Bennett’s tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime are as follows:
- Never click. Always think – You won’t get phished if you don’t click.
- Be wary of tempting offers – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Protect your devices – Protect all your devices with a reputable security package to detect malware and other cyber threats.
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – Cybercriminals are after your credentials, so use MFA for an extra layer of protection.
- Clean up your social media – The more information you have posted about yourself, the more likely it is that a criminal can send you a targeted phishing attack.
- Back up your data regularly.