Dubai: More than 1.5 million people in the UAE have fallen prey to cybercrime in the past 12 months, suffering $422 million in direct financial losses, said an industry expert.
“On average, $283 per person was suffered in direct cost by cybercrime during the last year as adoption and evolution of new technologies have impacted people’s security,” said Johnny Karam, regional director, Middle East and French speaking Africa.
He said every second, 18 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than one-and-a-half million cybercrime victims each day on a global level.
According to the latest Norton Cybercrime 2012 report, 46 per cent of the UAE’s social networking users have fallen victim to cybercrime on social networking platforms.
Of the social networking users, 31 per cent adults have been a victim of social or mobile cybercrime in the UAE compared to the 21 per cent globally.
The report calculates the direct costs associated with global consumer cybercrime at $110 billion over the past 12 months.
In the past 12 months, an estimated 556 million adults across the world experienced cybercrime, more than the entire population of the European Union.
This figure represents 46 per cent of online adults who have been victims of cybercrime in the past 12 months, on par with the findings from 2011 at 45 per cent.
About 15 per cent of social network users reported someone had hacked into their profile and pretended to be them.
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.
“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” said Tamim Taufiq, head of consumer sales at Symantec Mena.
He said about 40 per cent of adults 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.
“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 per cent sure they’ve fallen victim to such an attack,” Karam said.
With people sending, receiving, and storing everything from personal photos to work-related correspondence and documents to bank statements and passwords for other online accounts, those email accounts can be a “potential gateway for criminals looking for personal and corporate information,” he said.