Cyber crime decreasing but more costly, study shows

2013-11-04 16:04

The number of people who fall victim to cyber crime has decreased, but the average cost per victim has risen by 50%, an annual study has found.

“Today’s cyber criminals are using more sophisticated attacks, such as ransomware and spear-phishing, that yield them more money per attack than ever before,” concludes the study released today.

Known as the Norton Report, it was commissioned by Symantec, which examines consumer online behaviour, security habits, and the dangers and financial cost of cyber crime.

The Norton Report found that 49% of consumers use their personal mobile devices for both work and play. This created new security risks for enterprises, as cyber criminals had the potential to access even more valuable information.

According to the report, nearly half of all smartphone users took their phones with when they went to bed, but did not protect them. Forty-eight percent of smartphone and tablet users did not take basic precautions such as using passwords, having security software, or backing up files from their mobile devices, it said.

This carelessness placed people and their digital identities at risk, Symantec internet safety advocate Marian Merritt said in a statement.

“If this was a test, mobile consumers would be failing,” said Merritt.

“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 the report, researchers said 70% of South Africans had fallen victim to cyber crime and other risky behaviour, compared to 50% globally.

About 47% of South African smartphone users had experienced mobile cyber crime in the past 12 months, compared to 38% globally.

Thirty-seven percent of South African smartphone users had basic free security software, compared to 33% globally.

The Norton Report (formerly known as the Norton Cyber Crime Report) is one of the world’s largest consumer cyber crime studies, based on self-reported experiences of more than 13 000 adults across 24 countries.

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