RIYADH: Consumer cybercrime has cost the Kingdom SR 2.6 billion in the past 12 months, according to a report released by Symantec yesterday. Symantec released the findings of its annual Norton Cybercrime Report, one of the world’s largest consumer cybercrime studies.
The study was aimed at understanding how cybercrime affects consumers, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impact 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 $ 110 billion over the past 12 months.
In the Kingdom, it is estimated that more than 3.6 million people fell victim to cybercrime in the past 12 months, suffering an average of $ 195 (SR 730) in direct financial losses.
Every second, 18 adults become victims of cybercrime, resulting in more than 1.5 million cybercrime victims each day on a global level. With losses totaling an average of $ 197 per victim across the world in direct financial costs, cybercrime costs consumers more than a week’s worth of nutritional food necessities for a family of four. In the past 12 months, an estimated 556 million adults across the world experienced cybercrime, more than the entire population of the European Union. This figure represents 46 percent of online adults who have been victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months, on par with the findings from 2011 (45 percent).
In Saudi Arabia, 40 percent of the country’s social networking users have fallen victim to cybercrime on social networking platforms. Of the social networking users, 20 percent have been victims of social or mobile cybercrime in the past 12 months in the Kingdom compared to 21 percent globally.
This year’s 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 percent) has been a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, and 39 percent of social network users have been victims of social cybercrime. Specifically, 15 percent of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them; a 10th of social network users said they had fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms.
While 75 percent believe that cybercriminals are setting their sights on social networks, less than half (44 percent) actually use a security solution that protects them from social network threats, and only 49 percent use the privacy settings to control what information they share and with whom.
Nearly one-third (31 percent) of 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 “voice-mail”. “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 2011 from the year before.”
The 2012 report also reveals that most Internet users take the basic steps to protect themselves and their personal information, such as deleting suspicious e-mails and being careful with their personal details online. However, other core precautions are being ignored: 40 percent 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.
In addition, 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 recognizing how malware, such as viruses, act on their computer. In fact, 40 percent of adults do not know that malware can operate in a discreet fashion, making it hard to know if a computer has been compromised, and more than half (55 percent) are not certain that their computer is currently clean and free of viruses.
“Malware and viruses used to wreak obvious havoc on your computer,” Merritt continued.