More than 42 million Indians were hit by cyber crime in the last 12 months, with a total of $8 billion recorded in direct financial losses, according to the findings of the latest edition of the annual Norton Cybercrime Report. The study, which is aimed at understanding how cyber crime affects consumers, and how the adoption and evolution of new technologies impacts people’s security, has found that the direct costs associated with global consumer cyber crime over the past twelve months stands at an astounding $110 billion.

According to the report, 66 percent of Indian online adults have been a victim of cyber crime in their lifetime. In the past 12 months, 56 percent of online adults in India have experienced cyber crime (more than 115,000 victims of cyber crime every day, 80 victims per minute and more than 1 per second), and the average direct financial cost per victim is $192 – up 18 percent over 2011 ($163).

This year’s survey shows an increase in “new” forms of cyber crime compared to last year, such as social network hacking or cyber crime targeted at mobile devices – a sign that cyber criminals are starting to focus their efforts on these increasingly popular platforms.

Protection for your PC and other devices

Norton records an increase in cyber crime in India

In India, one in three online adults (32 percent) has been a victim of either social or mobile cyber crime in the last 12 months, and 51 percent of social network users have been victims of social cyber crime.

22 percent of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them, while 15 percent of social network users said they had fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms. Although 83 percent believe that cyber criminals are setting their sights on social networks, only around half (57 percent) actually use a security solution that protects them from social network threats. Only 44 percent use privacy settings to control what information they share, and with whom.

Nearly half (44 percent) 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,” said Effendy Ibrahim, Internet Safety Advocate and Director – Asia, for Norton by Symantec. “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.”

Passwords are the key to protecting yourself from cyber attacks and Norton has stressed on this fact in its report. According to the report, more than half (64 percent) of online adults in India admitted to having been notified to change their passwords for compromised e-mail accounts. With people sending, receiving, and storing everything from personal photos (47 percent), work-related correspondence and documents (44 percent), to bank statements (33 percent) and passwords for other online accounts (23 percent), e-mail 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,” said Ibrahim. “Protect your email accordingly by using complex passwords and changing them regularly.”

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