WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 — Everything comes at a price, so the saying goes. As our lives are becoming more convenient and connected due to great advancements in technology, the risk of becoming victims of cyber security breaches increases dramatically. The increased connectivity raises the risk of problems such as online identity theft and credit card fraud.
Cyber security is something that should be taken seriously. No Internet user is safe. If you are online, you may be exposed to different kinds of cyber threats without even realizing it.
The 2012 Norton Cybercrime report, which was based on self-reported experiences of over 13,000 adults in 24 countries including the United States, Singapore, Japan, China, South Africa, and others, showed the following:
- Every second, 18 adults become a victim of cybercrime. This means that every day, all around the world, a total of over 1.5 million people become cybercrime victims.
- From 2011 to 2012, the estimated cost of damages due to global consumer cyber crime was at US$110 billion.
- From 2011 to 2012, approximately 556 million adults around the world experienced cybercrime.
- Two out of three online adults have become victims of cybercrime in their entire lifetime.
- In the U.S. alone, the estimated cost of consumer cybercrime totalled about 21 billion dollars.
The same report states that the face of cybercrime is changing due to advancements in mobile technology. More and more cyber thieves are going mobile, because more consumers are switching to mobile applications. According to Norton, two out of three adults use a mobile device to access the Internet. This may increase our vulnerability to cyber criminals.
The study also found that 65% of Internet users had become a victim of some form of cybercrime, ranging from online scams, malware attacks and viruses, phishing attacks, credit card fraud, hacking of social-networking profiles and sexual predation.
A different report, this time by Cisco, showed the following:
- In 2012, android malware grew 2577% over 2012, as compared to mobile malware, which made up only 0.5% of total web malware encounters.
- Contrary to what many people may think, compared to pornographic websites, online advertisements are 182 times more likely to deliver malicious content. You are likely to encounter malware on legitimate and trusted websites you already visit. Many times, users are redirected to malicious websites or the malicious content is embedded into the existing website.
- In 2012, the U.S. placed second in sending out spam emails to Internet users.
Based on the Norton Cybercrime report:
- One out of five online adults has become a victim of either mobile or social cybercrime.
- 39 percent of social network users have become victims of social cybercrime.
- 31 percent of mobile users received a text message from a stranger asking them to click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a “voicemail.”
Due to current advances in technology and rapid increase in social media use, activities that are considered cyber crime go far beyond traditional areas such as online identity theft. They now include spam or fake emails, virus attacks and malicious software that can infect computers and other devices, and cyber bullying. In many cases, people are not even aware that cyber criminals have victimized them.
For example, in early 2013, more than 300,000 computer users around the world discovered that their PCs had been infected by malicious software and used by hackers to commit fraud.
Bearing this in mind, it is crucial then that Internet users be extra careful when they go online. They must do what they can to avoid falling victim to cyber thieves.
If you believe you have become a cybercrime victim, here are the first steps you should take:
- Get in touch with your bank and other financial institutions that may be affected by cyber thieves
- Run a virus scan on your PC to find out the source of any infection
- Contact your email provider and tell them that your computer has been hacked
To help prevent yourself falling prey to cyber thieves, here are a few tips:
- As in the case of identity theft protection, do all that you can to protect your data online and offline. This includes never adding strangers as “friends” on Facebook, not clicking on “funny” or suspicious links in emails and on social media, and being careful when using public Wi-Fi networks.
- Always use different usernames for your different online accounts and whenever possible, use extra passwords. Two-factor passwords, like a password plus a secret code, help provide an extra level of security.
- Do not re-use your email password because it is the key to all your other accounts, especially for social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and the like.
- Do not allow yourself to become a victim of cyber bullying, which is one form of cybercrime, along with cyber harassment. The effects of such bullying could include the damage of one’s reputation both online and offline, and even psychological damage. If you are being bullied or harassed online, take the necessary steps to stop it, initially, by reporting it to the relevant authorities.
Do you have any useful tips to share on how to avoid becoming a cybercrime victim? Please feel free to share them in the comments section. Also, if you have found this post useful in any way, go ahead and share it with your friends by clicking on any of the buttons at the top of this column.
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