Norton: Cybercrime cost $110 billion last year

Norton: Cybercrime cost $110 billion last year

Summary: Norton's annual Cybercrime report says that in the last twelve months, cybercrime has cost $110 billion, and may have implications for businesses worldwide.

TOPICS: Security

The yearly Norton Cybercrime report (.pdf) analyses how cybercrime affects consumers, and how emerging technology -- including mobile and cloud computing -- impacts security. As mobile technology and bring your own device (BYOD) schemes insinuate themselves into the corporate sphere -- blending personal and professional communication -- businesses need to take note.

This year's release comprises of over 13,000 participants across 24 countries, aged 18-64, and says that U.S. consumers lost $20.7 billion last year after falling prey to cybercrime including attacks, malware and phishing. Globally, the rate rose to $110 billion in direct financial loss.

An estimated 71 million people in the United States became cybercrime victims last year. According to the report, 1.5 million people are impacted every day across the world -- close to 18 people per second. The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were found in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent).

Globally, each victim accounted for an average of $197 in financial loss. In the United States, this increased to $290.

According to the report, an estimated 556 million adults across the world have first-hand experience of cybercrime -- more than the entire population of the European Union. This equates to nearly half of all adults online (46 percent), a slight rise from the 2011 figure of 45 percent.

There has been an increase in cybercrime which takes advantage of social networks and mobile technology. 21 percent have fallen prey to social or mobile crime. Specifically within social networking, the report found that 15 percent of users have had their account infiltrated, and 1 in 10 have been victims of fake links or scams.

75 percent of participants believed that cybercriminals were gearing more towards social networks, but less than half (44 percent) used security software to help protect them against these kinds of attacks. In addition, only half (49 percent) used privacy settings effectively to control the information they share.

Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt said:

"Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast-growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks. 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."

Although most Internet users take basic steps to protect themselves, 40 percent do not use complex passwords, and over a third aren't fussed about typing sensitive information into an unsecure site. When accessing email, 44 percent use unsecure, public Wi-Fi -- and 40 percent do not recognize how malware has evolved to subtly compromise a system, placing personal and corporate information at risk. In addition, 55 percent of participants are unsure if their systems are currently clean.

When using public connections, 67 percent access email, 63 percent use social networking and 24 percent access their bank account, according to the report.

The study found that email accounts are often a target for cybercriminals to try and access personal and corporate information. 27 percent of adults have been notified to change their email due to an account being compromised -- and when 42 percent store work-related correspondence and documents on these accounts, businesses need to be aware that this could be a security risk.  Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor says:

"Personal email accounts often contain the keys to your online kingdom. Not only can criminals gain access to everything in your inbox, they can also reset your passwords for any other online site you may use by clicking the 'forgot your password' link, intercepting those emails and effectively locking you out of your own accounts."

Victims were most likely to be Millienials (75 percent) in comparison to Baby Boomers (56 percent), potentially due to their more frequent use of online services. Businesses should take away the potential damage that a lack of security acumen can cause, as personal devices and mobile storage of company information becomes firmly entrenched in corporate culture. 

Topic: Security

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  • There are crimes in this author's math:

    "The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were found in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent)"

    I realize the populations in these countries are growing but just these three countries add up to 256 percent!

    Did someone hack this article and change the numbers??
    Jane Marek
    • Confused language

      It *looks* as though the reason for the seemingly very bad math is that the Norton report has it badly worded. It should have been worded more like "Countries with Highest Percentage of Cybercrime Victims:" instead of "Highest Number of Cybercrime Victims Found in:"

      Pretty garish-looking report -- it comes across more like a dumbed down Powerpoint presentation.

      Also while $110 billion sounds like a lot of money, that's likely relatively small change compared to financial industry fraud ("likely" in the sense that statistics with hard numbers are much harder to come by here, and one person's fraud could be another person's smart business deal.)
  • Press release journalism

    All you do here is to summarize Symantec's press release, which may well be newsworthy, but it would be useful to know:

    1. What sorts of crimes they're including in these statistics?
    2. How were the numbers were actually computed (particularly the financial loss figures)?
    3. How reliable are they?

    The motivation behind this press release is almost certainly to drum up sales for their software (it's probably not as a public service), so it behooves journalists to approach these sorts of stories with some skepticism.
    John L. Ries
    • John L. Ries, one thing you said captured my thought to a tee

      Even as I saw merely the title of this article, I began to wonder how much Norton/Symantec motivation might be phrased as, "We hope you don't forget that you still need us!"