Cybercrime costs $114bn annually, says Symantec

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Cybercrime costs the world US$114-billion every year. That’s according to a report from global software security firm Symantec. The report adds that some 431-million adults have been victims of cybercrime in the past year.

When adjusted to include financial losses and time lost, the global cost of cybercrime goes up to US$388-billion. According to Symantec, this means that cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined (US$288-billion).

Globally, every 14 seconds, 14 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than one-million victims every day.

Of the 24 individual countries surveyed in the report, the United States was by far the worst hit by cybercrime. The report states that more than 74-million people in the US have been victims of cybercrime suffering US$32-billion in direct financial losses.

A number of emerging market economies have also been particularly hard hit. According to the report, in the past 12 months cybercrime has cost China around US$25-billion, Brazil US$15-billion and India US$4-billion.

South Africa has one of the highest ratios of adults affected by cybercrime. Some 84 percent of the country’s adult online population have been victims of cybercrime in their lifetime. Among these, 74 percent have fallen prey in the last 12 months.

This puts it just behind China, where 85 percent of the country’s large online adult population have been victims of cybercrime.

The report also reveals that there has been an upsurge in mobile cybercrime. Ten percent of adults online have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phones and the number of reported new mobile operating system vulnerabilities increased from 115 in 2009 to 163 in 2010.

The report identifies men aged between 18 and 31, who access the internet from their mobile phone as the most likely to fall victim to this kind of cybercrime.

The report states that the most common — and most preventable — type of cybercrime is computer viruses and malware.

Kara Rawden, Senior Marketing Manager, Consumer — Middle East and Africa Symantec Corporation said that this prevalence was down to a serious disconnect in the way people view cybercrime:

Over the past 12 months, over 6 in 10 adults surveyed (62 percent) in South Africa, have suffered from online crime while 35 percent have experienced offline crime, yet just 20 percent think they are more likely to become a victim of cybercrime than physical world crime in the next year. And while 94 percent of respondents agree that more needs to be done to bring cybercriminals to justice, only 22 percent said that they reported cybercrime to the authorities. Fighting cybercrime is a shared responsibility. It requires us all to be more alert and to invest in our online smarts and safety.

The full South African report can be found here: South Africa_NCR_DataSheet

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