Norton by Symantec released the findings of its annual Norton Cybercrime Report, one of the world’s largest consumer cybercrime studies. The study is aimed at understanding how cybercrime affects real people in real ways, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts people’s security. With findings based on self-reported experiences of more than 13,000 adults across 24 countries, the 2012 edition of the Norton Cybercrime Report calculates the direct costsi associated with global consumer cybercrime at US $110 billionii over the past twelve months. In Canada it is estimated that more than 46 per cent of people fell victim to cybercrime in the past twelve months, suffering on average C$169 each in direct financial losses. That number is US$197 globally.

Every second, 18 adults become a victim of cybercrimeiv, resulting in more than one-and-a-half million cybercrime victims each day on a global level. In the past twelve months, 556 millionv adults across the world experienced cybercrime, more than the entire population of the European This figure represents 46 per cent of online adults who have been victims of cybercrime in the past twelve months, on par with the findings from 2011 (45 per cent).

Norton Cybercrime Report 2012 – Quick Facts for Canada

8.3 million: Number of cybercrime victims in past year

70%: Online adults who have experienced cybercrime in their lifetime

46%: Online adults who experienced cybercrime in the past 12 months

C$1.4 billion: Total net cost of cybercrime

C$169: Average direct cost per cybercrime victim in the past 12 months

16%: Adults who have been a victim of social or mobile cybercrime in the past twelve months

76%: Mobile users who don’t use a security solution for their mobile device

37%: Social network users who have fallen victim to cybercrime on social networking platforms

21%: Online adults who don’t understand the risk of cybercrime or how to protect themselves online

42%: Online adults who agree that unless their computer crashes or goes slow, it’s hard to know if they’ve been a victim of cybercrime

34%: Online adults who do not know that malware can operate behind the scenes in a discreet fashion

38%: Online adults who don’t use complex passwords or change their passwords frequently

Changing Face of Cybercrime

This year’s survey shows an increase in “new” forms of cybercrime compared to last year, such as those found on social networks or mobile devices vii – a sign that cybercriminals are starting to focus their efforts on these increasingly popular platforms. Globally – 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:

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 cybercriminals 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”.

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, using basic anti-virus protection, and being careful with their personal details online – but there is room for improvement: globally, 40 per cent don’t use complex passwords or change their passwords frequently and over 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 unaware as to how some of the most common forms of cybercrime have evolved over the years and thus have a difficult time recognizing how malware, such as viruses, act on their computer. In fact, 2 out of 5 (40 per cent) adults globally do not know that malware can operate in a discreet fashion, making it hard to know if a computer has been compromised, and more than half (55 per cent) are not certain that their computer is currently clean and free of viruses.

“Acts of cybercrime today are not the same as they were years ago,” said Lynn Hargrove, director of Consumers Solutions, Symantec Canada. “Before cybercriminals wanted notoriety, they wanted you to know you’d been had, but they’ve evolved over the years. If they can behave silently, they know they can live longer on your machine and continue to carry out their malicious activity. Consumers need to understand the landscape has changed and take additional steps to protect themselves. The Norton Cybercrime Report shows us that Cybercriminals are going to where the action is and are increasingly targeting social networks and mobile devices.”

Strong Email Passwords Still Key

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of online adults globally report having been notified to change their password for a compromised email account. With people sending, receiving, and storing everything from personal photos (50 per cent) to work-related correspondence and documents (42 per cent) to bank statements (22 per cent) and passwords for other online accounts (17 per cent), 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. Protect your email accordingly, by using complex passwords and changing them regularly,” said Adam Palmer, Norton Lead Cybersecurity Advisor.