As more and more of everyday life becomes predicated on our connection to the digital world, the chances we will be targeted or vulnerable to cyber-attacks has also risen.
The numbers don’t lie. According to Norton’s latest Cyber Security Insights report in 2017, cyber-criminals stole $US172 billion from 978 million victims in 2017. Globally, victims reported an average loss of $US142 plus almost 24 hours of their time dealing with the aftermath.
In Australia specifically, more than six million people were affected in 2017 with an above average cost of $AU195 per victim. To put that in perspective, that’s almost one-third of Australia’s adult population and up 13% from 2016.
However, if you asked the average person what they imagine a modern cyber-security victim looks like, the odds are they would describe either somebody who is too young to know any better or somebody who is elderly and/or technologically-illiterate. Unfortunately, the most-common characteristics of a modern cyber-victim in the real-world extend far beyond these stereotypes.
The Cyber Security Insights report identifies three traits most cybersecurity targets have in common.
Expecting the unexpected
Firstly, according to Norton, consumers who have fallen victim to cybercrime, emphasise the importance of online security more than non-victims. However, they are also more likely to contradict this behaviour through basic missteps.
The report notes that “cyber security concerns do not always seem to translate to good behaviours as many consumers may put themselves at risk in their day-to-day lives.” That dissonance is reflected in the trends.
While 44% of global consumers say they have personally experienced cybercrime, about 39% of those same victims report actually gaining more trust in their ability to hold and protect their personal information and data and 33% believe they are at a low risk of becoming a cybercrime victim.
One possible - and logical - culprit for this contradiction is overconfidence. In Australia, 73% of respondents to the Cyber Security Insights report said they used security software – and while having dedicated security software is important, it’s only the first of several steps customers should regularly take to defend themselves against cyber threats.
If cyber-security can be called a journey, it’s one that begins with software but, ultimately, extends well beyond it.
Keeping your house in order
Another shared-trait Norton’s report revealed is that cyber-security victims tend to favour multiple devices and adopt newer technologies.
There are a couple of points to note here. However, perhaps most importantly, this correlation suggests that as we embrace new technologies which aim to make our lives more convenient, we also need to be remain aware, mindful and vigilant that these same connected devices can potentially open up new vectors of attack for cyber-criminals.
Norton found more than one-third (37%) of cyber-crime victims globally also owned a gaming console and smart device, compared to 28% of non-victims. It said they were also almost twice as likely to own connected home devices than non-victims.
Despite these numbers, the biggest takeaway shouldn’t be that these emerging technologies and devices are inherently dangerous from a cyber-security perspective. It should be – to put it simply – the more connected technology you use, the greater your theoretical risk of cybercrime.
Thankfully, given more and more everyday customers are moving to multi-device lifestyles, security vendors are now also moving to account for, and cater to, that behaviour. Norton’s own All-In-One Security bundle offers customers protection for either one, three or five devices – regardless of whether they run on Windows, Mac OS X, Android or iOS.
Don’t forget about the basics
Finally, Norton’s latest report found that common cybercrime casualties often practice new security techniques such as fingerprint ID (44%), facial recognition (13%), pattern matching (22%), a personal VPN (16%) and voice ID (10%).
The rapid adoption of these technologies in recent years – particularly fingerprint ID – shows consumers seem more open to actively taking additional steps to try and secure their devices. Unfortunately, despite the widespread adoption of these new security technologies, 20% of cybercrime casualties globally reported using the same password across all their online accounts and 58% shared at least one device or account password with others – two very basic and easily-avoidable mistakes.
In Australia, Norton says more than 50% of people who admitted to sharing their password with others reported experiencing cybercrime. What’s more, the company’s report says 1-in-4 (24%) millennials used the same password for all their online accounts.
While biometric cybersecurity and the like can add new layers of security to your data, they always need to be supported by strong basic password practices.
Avoid basing your password on publicly available information such as your birthday or home town as it makes it easier to guess your password. If your account or device enables it, consider two-factor authentication as it adds a value extra layer of security. Finally, if you’re struggling to manage your passwords, consider investing in Norton Security Premium which includes a password manager.
The Bottom Line
If there’s any specific advice consumers should take away from the Norton Cyber Security Insights report, it is this: “Stick to the basics. The realities of cybercrime can feel daunting, but practicing basic behaviours, such as proper password hygiene, will go a long way. While new technologies such as facial recognition and voice ID are effective, it all starts with basic security measures.”
While early adopters are, perhaps by nature, enthusiastic and eager to embrace new and emerging technologies, they still need to keep in mind cybercrime can happen to anybody.
Cybersecurity might seem complicated but, sometimes, the simplest and most well-known solutions are probably the best way to go. If you don’t want to be a victim of cybercrime, you should invest in protecting yourself.
You can read the full Norton Cyber Security Insights report here.
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