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Researchers: 'Cybercrime Is Much More Prevalent Than People Realize'

Cost of online crime estimated at $114 billion annually; victim costs are much higher, Norton says
The cost of cybercrime across the globe is much higher than originally estimated, according to a study published earlier this week.

According to Symantec's new "Norton Cybercrime Report," the initial financial cost of global cybercrime is about $114 billion annually. But based on the value victims placed on time lost due to their cybercrime experiences, an additional $274 billion was lost, according to the study.

With 431 million adult victims globally in the past year and at an annual price of $388 billion globally based on financial losses and time lost, cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined ($288 billion), the study says.

More than two-thirds of online adults (69 percent) have been a victim of cybercrime during their lifetimes, according to the study. Every second, 14 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than 1 million cybercrime victims every day, Norton says.

Ten percent of adults online have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phones, the study says. In addition to threats on mobile devices, increased social networking and a lack of protection are among the main culprits behind the growing number of cybercrime victims, the researchers say.

The study identifies men between 18 and 31 years old who access the Internet from their mobile phones as even more likely victims -- four in five men (80 percent) have fallen prey to cybercrime in their lifetimes.

Globally, the most common type of cybercrime is computer viruses and malware -- 54 percent of respondents say they have experienced virus infection in their lifetimes. Viruses are followed by online scams (11 percent) and phishing messages (10 percent).

"There is a serious disconnect in how people view the threat of cybercrime," said Adam Palmer, Norton lead cybersecurity adviser. "Cybercrime is much more prevalent than people realize. Over the past 12 months, three times as many adults surveyed have suffered from online crime versus offline crime, yet less than a third of respondents think they are more likely to become a victim of cybercrime than physical world crime in the next year."

While 74 percent of respondents say they are always aware of cybercrime, many are not taking the necessary precautions, the report says. Forty-one percent of adults indicated they don't have an up-to-date security software suite. Fewer than half review credit card statements regularly for fraud (47 percent), and 61 percent don't use complex passwords or change them regularly. Among those who access the Internet via their mobile phone, only 16 percent install the most up-to-date mobile security, the study says.

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