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Study: Global cybercrime costs more than illegal drugs

Consumer Reports News: September 07, 2011 04:08 PM

Just how bad is online crime and hacking? Would you believe that the amount of time and money lost to cybercrime exceeds that of the global black market value for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined?

That's one of the finding from the Norton Cybercrime Report 2011, the latest annual study released today by Symantec, the maker of Norton security software. Based on interviews conducted in 24 countries with more than 12,000 adults and 7,000 children, from February to March, the report concluded:

  • 431 million adults were cybercrime victims last year.
  • The $338 billion lost in money ($114 billion) and time ($274 billion) to cybercrime is greater than that of the illicit global drug trade—about $288 billion.
  • Computer viruses and malware still remain the top threats, with 54 percent of respondents reporting unfortunate run-ins with those types of attacks.
  • Online scams and phishing messages are the second- and third-most-common online attacks (11 and 10 percent, respectively).
  • 10 percent of adults have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phones.
  • Males between 18 and 31 years old are most likely to become victims of a cyber-attack on cell phones.

The main issue, says Norton's researchers, still lies with consumers. Although 74 percent of respondent are "always aware" of cybercrime, 41 percent admit they don't have up-to-date security programs. Fewer than half (47 percent) of respondents regularly review their credit card statements for signs of fraud, and fewer than 40 percent use strong passwords or change them regularly.

Similar costs from Web threats were also detailed in Consumer Reports' recent cyber-security report, State of the Net 2011. In that report, our researchers found that malware in the U.S. cost consumer some $2.3 billion last year.

For tips on how to protect yourself and your data, check out Consumer Reports' Guide to Online Security. And for non-biased advice on the best computer security software, see our Ratings of software security suites.

Norton Study Calculates Cost of Global Cybercrime: $114 Billion Annually [Symantec]

Paul Eng

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