Cyber criminals are increasingly turning towards Internet-enabled mobile devices and social networks in their search for prey, according to the annual Norton Cybercrime Report released recently by security firm Symantec. According to the report, one in five online adults (21 percent) has been a victim of either social or mobile cybercrime, and 39 percent of social network users have been victims of social cybercrime, specifically.

The report states that cybercrimes account for global economic losses to the tune of $110 billion. 85 percent of direct financial losses are due to a result of fraud, repairs, theft or loss as a result of cybercrime.

Norton 2012

Symantec's 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report released

Regarding mobile devices and social network crimes, the report states that 15 percent of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them, while one in ten social network users said they had fallen victim to a scam or fake link on social network platforms. The report finds that nearly one-third (31 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”. The report also adds that mobile vulnerabilities doubled in 2011 as compared to 2010.

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

In addition, the 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 recognising how malware, such as viruses, act on their computer. In fact, 40 percent of adults do not know that malware can operate discreetly, making it hard to know if a computer has been compromised, and more than half (55 percent) are not certain that their computer is currently clean and free of viruses.

Interestingly, the report revealed that two of three mobile users don’t use a mobile security solution, while 44 percent of the respondents weren’t even aware that security solutions for mobile platforms even exist.

“Malware and viruses used to wreak obvious havoc on your computer,” Merritt added. “You’d get a blue screen, or your computer would crash, alerting you to an infection. But cybercriminals’ 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 percent sure they’ve fallen victim to such an attack.”

The report states that the scale of consumer cybercrime sees 556 million victims per year, which translates to 1.5 million victims per day and 18 victims per second. This figure represents 46 percent of online adults who have been victims of cybercrime in the past twelve months.

It is revealed that the country with highest number of cybercrime victims was Russia at 92 percent, followed by China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent).

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