Cybercrime is a Global Problem; Increasingly Social and Mobile (2012 Norton Cybercrime Report)
Guest post by Marian Merritt: Norton Internet Safety Advocate
The Norton Cybercrime Report is out for 2012! Cybercrime continues to have far-reaching effects and is increasingly a problem on mobile devices and in our social networks (where we seem to be less vigilant).
After surveying more than 13,000 consumers in 24 countries, the researchers found that the numbers of online adults increased by 20% from last year, and that cybercrime impacted just under ½ of them in the previous 12 months.
The total direct consumer cost was calculated to be £69 billion, slightly down from last year’s £72 billion, with the average cost per victim down approximately 20%. The reason the overall cost remains so high is that the pool of victimised online adults grew more rapidly – in other words, less money, but from more victims.
The nature of the crimes is shifting towards the social networks we love and the mobile devices we constantly use. Consumers seem to have figured out the basics of protecting themselves on their desktop and laptop computers and report using basic security measures and caution to stay safe. It would seem they’ve really gotten the message about things like being careful what you click on and deleting suspicious emails without opening them.
Yet, if our preferred way to connect online is via our mobile devices (2/3 of respondents use a mobile device to connect to the Internet), we’ve got to start taking the same security measures there. That message hasn’t yet penetrated to the consumer, so the behaviour on mobile devices is still pretty casual. 44% of the study participants were unaware that mobile security solutions even exist! (I highly recommend the Norton website www.mobilesecurity.com to learn more about the issues facing the mobile device user.)
Mobile vulnerabilities are up and malicious apps in the mobile app stores are a growing concern.
I mentioned a shift in cybercrime towards social networks as well. Last year’s study found that 7% of people in the UK have had their social account hacked. This year, the number is up to 10%. The total rate of cybercrime on social networks (more than simply a hacked account, but also including harassment, bullying, click- or like-jacking, and falling victim to scams) is 39% globally and 30% in the UK.
We’ve put a slideshow together that shows the headlines of the study and how it was conducted.
There’s also a nifty infographic with a concise visual story on the topic.
Bottom line: While the makeup of cybercrime continues to shift from increasingly protected environments like computers to the less guarded and extremely vulnerable social networks and mobile devices, consumers must increase their vigilance. Continue with best practices like being careful what you click on; not responding to unsolicited or mysterious messages whether email or text; installing and maintaining comprehensive security software; and creating complex and unique passwords for devices and online accounts.
See also: mobile phone safety for kids