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Cost per Victim Goes Down; Social and Mobile Incidents on the Rise.

Norton has just released the findings of its annual Norton Cybercrime Report. The study is designed to understand how cybercrime affects consumers, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts people’s security. All the findings were based on self-reported experiences involving more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries. The result is that the 2012 edition of the Norton Cybercrime Report calculates the direct costs associated with global consumer cybercrime at £69 billion over the past twelve months. In the UK it estimated that more than 12.5 million people were victim to cybercrime in the past twelve months, leading to £1.8 billion in direct financial losses.

Changing Face of Cybercrime

An interesting aspect of this year’s survey shows an increase in “new” forms of cybercrime compared to last year. Typically these were found on social networks or mobile devices, - a sign that cyber criminals are starting to focus their efforts on these increasingly popular platforms. One in five online adults (21 per cent) has been a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, and 39 per cent of social network users have been victims of social cybercrime, specifically:

Major points from the survey

-          15 per cent of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them.

-          1 in 10 social network users said they’d fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms.

-          While 75 per cent believe that cyber criminals are setting their sights on social networks, less than half (44 per cent) actually use a security solution which protects them from social network threats and only 49 per cent use the privacy settings to control what information they share, and with whom.

-          Nearly one-third (31 per cent) of mobile users received a text message from someone they didn’t know requesting that they click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a “voicemail”.

“Cyber criminals are changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” says Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate. “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.”

The 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report also reveals that most Internet users take the basic steps to protect themselves and their personal information - such as deleting suspicious emails and being careful with their personal details online. However, other critical and core precautions are being ignored it found: 40 per cent don’t use complex passwords or change their passwords frequently and more than a third do not check for the padlock symbol in the browser before entering sensitive personal information, such as banking details, online.

In addition, this year’s report also indicates that many online adults are still unaware as to how some of the most common forms of cybercrime have evolved over the years. In fact, 40 per cent of adults do not know that malware can operate in a discreet fashion, making it hard to know if a computer has been compromised. More worrying was the fact that more than half of online users are not certain that their computer is currently clean and free of viruses.

“Malware and viruses used to wreak obvious havoc on your computer,” Merritt continued. “You’d get a blue screen, or your computer would crash, alerting you to an infection. But cyber criminals’ methods have evolved; they want to avoid detection as long as possible.  This year’s results show that nearly half of Internet users believe that unless their computer crashes or malfunctions, they’re not 100 per cent sure they’ve fallen victim to such an attack.”

Strong Email Passwords Still Key

The report found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of online adults report having been notified to change their password for a compromised email account. With people sending, receiving, and storing everything from personal photos to work-related correspondence and documents to bank statements and passwords for other online accounts, those email accounts can be a potential gateway for criminals looking for personal and corporate information.

“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,” says Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor.  “Protect your email accordingly by using complex passwords and changing them regularly.”

For more findings from the Norton Cybercrime Report globally and by country, please visit:

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