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Australia's most gullible: Top victims of cybercrime?

Australians experience one of the highest levels of cybercrime in the world, according to a new survey — but are Aussies really such easy targets?
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Written by Marcus Browne on

Australians experience one of the highest levels of cybercrime in the world, according to a new survey — but are Aussies really such easy targets?

A survey of computer users in Australia, the US, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic and Brazil ranked Australia as having the "highest incidence of cybercrime in the world" only a week after the Federal government launched its Stay Smart Online campaign.

Results of the study — which surveyed 1000 users from each country — showed that just over 39 per cent of Australian respondents identified themselves as victims of cybercrime, ahead of Italy (32 per cent), the US (28 per cent), Czech Republic (24 per cent), Brazil (22 per cent), Germany (20 per cent), France (19 per cent), Spain and Sweden (14 per cent each).

The study, commissioned by security vendor AVG, found that Australian's were most likely to be victims of online crimes such as fraudulent email scams (14 per cent), phishing (10 per cent) and credit card fraud (5 per cent).

An AVG spokesperson described the results as a little surprising but added that the higher rate of cybercrime experienced by Australians may be on account of being "more active users online".

James Turner, security analyst for research firm IBRS, said there could be other factors which inspired the result. "It could just be that we're a bit more honest than some countries, or more prone to trusting others although with the amount of users surveyed you'd have to think it would be a reasonably accurate," he told ZDNet.com.au.

"It really depends a lot on your definition of cybercrime as well...[Microsoft's] Scott Charney made an interesting case at AusCERT for credit card fraud not being considered cybercrime, so the jury's out on this one," he concluded.

Patrik Bihammar, senior security analyst at IDC, believes that the results do not necessarily reveal that any country may be more susceptible to cybercrime than another, but that some have a higher proportion of users who take greater care online.

"I'd say people not doing more to protect themselves would be the biggest differentiator," he said. "Some of the markets examined here just have a more mature approach to internet security."

"In Europe there's a much closer link between ISPs and the security industry, that's just one example," said Bihammar. "We haven't seen much like that here except for the partnership between F-Secure and Optus."

According to the report, Australians had a "relatively high level of awareness" of internet security, but displayed an even higher level of trust in their security software vendor, with 70.5 per cent saying they were confident with their security software, the second highest positive response after the US with 73.3 per cent in that category.

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