South Africans are feeling the effects of an increase in cyber crime, collectively costing victims over R3.42 billion rand over the past 12 months, according to a new report by Symantec.
The report is based on interviews conducted with 13,022 adults from 24 countries (a minumum of 500 people per country), carried out between July and August 2013.
Symantec’s data indicates that over 1 million South Africans had fallen victim to cyber crime in the past year, costing the country a total of US$337 million (R3.42 billion) – or US$233 (R2,367) per victim.
According to Symantec, South Africa is the third most hard-hit country when it comes to cyber crime – with 73% of respondents indicating that they had experienced cyber crime in their lifetime, 55% of which had experienced it in the past year.
Russia is most hard hit (85%) and China (77%) the second most, according to the security firm.
The Symantec report follows news out of the USA in October, which saw the country’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list South Africa as the sixth most active country for where cyber crime took place.
However, informal consensus within the private sector corroberated the Symantic report, listing the country as the third most active cyber crime country, behind Russia and China.
According to Symantec, 378 million people fell victim to cyber crime in the past year – over 1 million per day – amounting to a global cost of US$113 billion (R1,15 trillion), and costing individuals US$298 (R3,029) per victim.
While across the globe there are fewer people falling victim to cyber fraud, Symantec said, the cost to each victim has risen.
According to Symantec, the greatest areas where users are failing security, globally, are when it comes to mobile data and handling their private information online.
The security firm has noted that cyber crime activity has made a large move towards mobile platforms, but security and mobile security “IQ” has been left behind.
Close to half of the 13,000 respondents indicated that they had experienced mobile cyber crime in the past year – but only 33% had basic security software on their smartphones, while 42% had security software on their tablets.
“If this was a test, mobile consumers would be failing,” said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec.
“While consumers are protecting their computers, there is a general lack of awareness to safeguard their smartphones and tablets. It’s as if they have alarm systems for their homes, but they’re leaving their cars unlocked with the windows wide open.”
In South Africa, users were slightly more security conscious – with 37% and 52% having security coverage on their phones and tablets, respectively.
However, South Africans reported more “physical” crime, with 54% indicating they had their phones or tablets stolen (compared to the 27% global average).