8.8 million South Africans hit by cyber crime - study

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Johannesburg - Almost 9 million South Africans were victims of cyber crime in the last year, according to a study by internet security company Norton.

More than 18 000 consumers across 18 countries were surveyed on issues of online crime as part of the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report.

South Africa was one of the 18 markets surveyed with a sample size of 1 001. The South African respondents selected were over 18 years old and they own at least one mobile device.

The study then used the extrapolation method to calculate the number of local cyber crime victims.

This calculation involves multiplying the number of online adults in South Africa by the percentage of cyber crime victims in the past 12 months.

“Millennials and Generation Xers are equally likely to have been victims within the last year at a staggering 39% and 37% respectively,” said Norton.

“However, only 23% of South Africans aged 55 and over experienced cybercrime during this period,” the study added.

The study further said that compared to their global counterparts, South Africans have heightened sensitivity to online information breaches as 76% believed identity theft was more likely than ever before.

Meanwhile, 67% of South Africans surveyed also said they felt it was easier to control personal information before smartphones and the internet.

“South Africans are more likely than their global counterparts to consider themselves tech savvy, but despite this, local millennials are less likely to take personal responsibility for their security - nearly one in three millennials admit to abandoning an account rather than deleting it simply because it was easier (31%),” Norton said.

Other findings of the study include the following:

  • South Africans are engaged with the topic of security (78% acknowledge the need to actively protect their information), but there is still a perception that security is an inconvenience;

  • 58% would rather cancel dinner plans with their best friend than have to cancel their credit/debit cards after their account has been compromised;

  • Nearly one in five do not have a password on his/her smartphone or desktop computer;

  • Six in 10 consumers say it is riskier to share their email passwords with a friend than lend him/her their car for a day;

  • Storing credit/banking information in the cloud is viewed as riskier than not wearing a seatbelt;

  • South Africans are more likely to own internet-enabled devices than their global counterparts, with smartphones and laptops being most common;

  • Though most devices are protected, South Africans falter when it comes to protecting home theatre devices, wearables, and internet-connected video game systems;

  • Devices considered easiest to hack are among the most frequently used, such as smartphones and laptops.

  • Over one in three South Africans admits to password sharing with email account passwords most shared;

  • Nearly seven in 10 change their passwords after they’ve been compromised… meaning nearly a third don’t (32 percent);

  • Over half check their accounts after a breach has been announced by the media;

  • While nearly half of South African password users always use one that is secure, one in five still only do so when required.

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