Symantec Releases Annual Cybercrime Report
September 5, 2012

Cybercrime Is A Booming Business Apparently

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

You´ve no doubt heard the countless warnings about cyberattacks and have been admonished towards better Internet security protocols. The threat is very real, and the risks are higher than one may imagine.

Today, one anti-virus and security tools maker has released a plethora of information detailing the very real threat of cyberattacks with some sobering statistics. According to Symantec, makers of Norton Anti-Virus and other security tools, online adults in 24 countries footed a whopping $388 billion cybercrime bill over the last 12 months.

In their annual Cybercrime Report, Norton measures and studies the relationship between new technology and an increasingly connected world and the growing rate of cybercrime. More than 13,000 online adults responded to the Norton survey across 24 countries.

The results of the survey offer some very shocking and eye-catching statistics. For instance, according to Norton´s Cybercrime Report, 18 online adults become victims of cybercrime every second. This means one and a half million adults become victims to cybercrime every day. Each of these one and a half million adults lose an average of $197 as a result of these crimes. All told, an estimated 556 million adults globally have been made victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months, a number greater than the entire population of the European Union. These 556 million victims make up a shocking 46% of all online adults, a one percent increase from last year´s Cybercrime Report.

As technologies change and Internet usage continues to shift and evolve, so too do the methods and tactics used in cybercrime. According to the report, these online criminals are beginning to take advantage of social networking and vulnerable mobile devices in their schemes. In fact, 21% of all respondents reported being a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, or 1 in every 5 adults.

39% of all social networking users said they had been victims of social cybercrime, with 15% of these users saying they have had their accounts hacked into.

Perhaps most shocking about these results is the off-kilter balance of knowledge and understanding. For instance, 75% of those surveyed said they believe cybercriminals are targeting social networking users. Facebook, in particular, faces privacy concerns and controversies nearly every month, and it´s been common knowledge for many years to never click anything from someone you don´t trust or recognize.

Yet, only 44% of those surveyed said they use any kind of security measures to protect themselves against rising social networking threats. Only 49% said they use the privacy settings provided on social networking sites or control which information they share with whom.

“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” said Marian Merrit, Norton´s Internet Safety Advocate in the press statement.

“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.”

While it is important to remember Norton stands to benefit financially from shocking statistics such as these, the threat of such Internet attacks and cybercrimes have been thoroughly documented before by unbiased third-parties. In other words, the threat is very real, and it´s always worth your time to take a look at your Internet Security habits, specifically where social networking is concerned.

Some other shocking statistics in this report:

-  There are twice as many cybercrimes committed each day than there are babies born

-  Cybercrime´s most common victims are men aged 18-31 in emerging markets with a high level of Internet use, or 49 hours per week.

-  The most common form of cybercrime remains computer malware and viruses. Mexico is the malware and virus capital of the world.

-  With that $388 billion, the global community could have spent 100 times more on child healthcare than last year, and 38 times more on education.

-  Though 9 out of 10 online adults in this study admitted the importance of staying safe online, only 21% have installed security software, a statistic which may say more about the current state of anti-virus and security tools than it does the consumer´s response to threats.