As more people work from home, cybercrime is on the rise, with criminal opportunists taking advantage of devices and connections with weak security. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

As more people work from home, cybercrime is on the rise, with criminal opportunists taking advantage of devices and connections with weak security. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

Cybercrime is rising, and APAC users can do more to fight it

The definition of cybercrime is continually evolving as avenues open up that allow cybercriminals to target consumers in new ways.  As more people move online for remote work, cybercriminals have been having a whale of a time wreaking havoc on unsuspecting users. 

What cybercrime is

According to Norton, a cybercrime is defined as “having personally experienced a crime committed with devices over the Internet”. 

This includes crimes where a computer is used to victimize an individual, such as by theft or fraud, and crimes that target other computers and connected devices to access the data on the device or that affect the device’s operation.

The 2021 Norton cyber safety insights report polled over 10,000 adults from 10 countries around the world on their experiences with and impact of cybercrime and their attitudes towards it. It also sought their opinions on personal privacy and online creeping.

Almost 60% of respondents report spending more time online than before. Over 70% of respondents from all countries agree that remote work has made it much easier for hackers and cybercriminals to take advantage of people.

While over half of respondents are more worried than before about being the victim of cybercrime, a similar proportion doesn’t know know how to protect themselves from it.

Cybercrime is becoming a greater threat

Within the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, over 70% of respondents from India and Australia have taken more precautions online due to concerns about cybercrime. However, only 48% of those in Japan have done so. 

This is supported by research by Checkpoint Technologies, which has found similar results — cybercrime has increased 168% in 12 months since May 2020.

Whilst adults in Japan are the most worried about cybercrime and feel more vulnerable to it than they did before the pandemic, they are also the most likely to not know how to protect themselves from it. Additionally, 82% of them admit that they have trouble deciphering the reliability of online information sources.

Globally, over 477 million consumers have been victims of cybercrime, with nearly 330 million cases in the past 12 months alone. 

In 2020, Japan saw nearly 19 million cybercrime cases, whereas Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) reported nearly 10 million. India was the hardest hit, seeing close to 120 million cases.

Many have realized how impactful cybercrime is

The top three cybercrimes reported by respondents included:

  • detecting malicious software on a computer, Wi-Fi network, smartphone, tablet, smart home, or other connected devices
  • detecting unauthorized access on an email account
  • detecting unauthorized access on a social media account

On average, victims report spending an average of seven hours resolving issues, with almost half were financially impacted by these attacks. 

Whilst ANZ report spending an average of six hours, those in India report spending over 10 hours. In terms of financial impact, approximately 45% of ANZ respondents incurred losses, whereas India reported a whopping 72%.

Most still don’t know how to deal with identity theft

Within the past 12 months alone, nearly 30 million people in India, four million in Japan, and nearly two million in ANZ people fell victim to identity theft. 

Concerningly, those in Japan are the most worried their identities would be stolen (74%), but 73% have no idea what to do if it actually does happen. Only 23% of Japanese believe that they are well-protected against it. 

These are in contrast to those in India and ANZ, which reported about a little more than half for the above. 

However, a staggering majority of all respondents globally and in APAC wish they had more information on what to do when their identities are stolen.

Protecting online activities

An overwhelming majority of respondents across the globe are concerned about data privacy, with close to 60% saying they are very concerned about it.

Thankfully, results from the survey show that a majority of respondents have taken some steps to protect their online privacy, most commonly making passwords stronger or limiting information shared on social media. This is similar to APAC respondents, except for those in Japan, where only 59% have taken steps to hide their footprints online.

Some of the measures taken to protect their personal data include:

  • Stopped using public Wi-Fi 
  • Read the Terms & Conditions in full before installing or downloading a device or service
  • Changed default privacy settings on devices
  • Enabled multi-factor authentication
  • Disabled third-party cookies in a browser
  • Configured a browser to improve security 
  • Used something other than my full name for social media profiles 
  • Used a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt information sent to and from my devices 
  • Used anonymous payment methods  
  • Deleted a social media account 
  • Used an encrypted email service 
  • Asked a company to see what personal information they have about me in their customer records 

Dealing with cybercrime is important for businesses

Norton’s survey reflects similar results from a recent IBM Security survey, which found that cybersecurity awareness by global consumers is still concerningly low. 

This trend will greatly impact businesses relying on digital engagement, so companies should bear in mind how these results will will affect their cybersecurity risk profiles — especially as more people access work materials from possibly unsecured devices at home.

Most businesses address cybersecurity reactively when they need to actually have a proactive approach instead. Not only will this keep businesses prepared, but they’ll also be able to use more advanced threat detection methods to deal with tougher threats.

The cybersecurity industry is facing a critical dearth of skilled cybersecurity experts. Countries in the APAC region are not training enough cybersecurity professionals, and in five years, the region is expected to need 5.7 billion people with digital skills training.

This is further compounded by how the cybersecurity industry is facing a gender imbalance — the industry is doomed to stagnation if there isn’t more diversity and inclusion. Over half of women in a CIISec survey believe it will take at least a decade for them to be treated as equals to men. 

In March 2021, Gartner held a Security & Risk Management Summit for APAC leaders, exploring top security and management risk trends for 2021. 

Whilst most solutions require trained cybersecurity experts, there are Managed Security Services (MSS) may be a more affordable solution for startups or enterprises to address a critical issue.