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Cybercrimes across GCC ‘double in 1 year’

Dubai, September 22, 2010

The number of active computers across the GCC falling prey to cybercrimes, including viruses, online credit card fraud and identity theft, has seen a rise of 116 per cent in less than a year, said a report.

Figures also showed that in the last nine months of 2009, the number of computer system crashes due to cyber attacks in the UAE totaled 248,000, placing it second to Saudi Arabia, which suffered 796,000 attacks over the same period.

Globally, two-thirds (65 per cent) of Internet users have fallen victims to cybercrimes, said The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact, released recently by IT security specialist Norton.

The first study to examine the emotional impact of cybercrime, it shows that victims’ strongest reactions are feeling angry (58 per cent), annoyed (51 per cent) and cheated (40 per cent), and in many cases, they blame themselves for being attacked.

Only 3 per cent don’t think it will happen to them, and nearly 80 per cent do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice— resulting in an ironic reluctance to take action and a sense of helplessness.

“In the case of cybercrime, one’s privacy is taken away without any control or ability to fight off the assailant,” said Dr Raymond Hamden, clinical & forensic psychologist at the Human Relations Institute of Dubai.

“Identity loss in particular is extremely frightening since one may lose control of all things that classify the person as unique.”

“Psychological trauma may cause an acute stress reaction which may lead on to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individual experiences include depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and an exaggerated startle response,” he added.

Despite the emotional burden, the universal threat, and incidence of cybercrime, people still aren’t changing their behaviors - with only half (51 per cent) of adults saying they would change their behavior if they became a victim. Even more concerning, fewer than half (44 per cent) reported the crime to the police.

Solving cybercrime can be highly frustrating: According to the report, it takes an average of 28 days to resolve a cybercrime, and the average cost to resolve that crime is $334. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said the biggest hassle they faced when dealing with cybercrime was the time it took to solve.

But despite the hassle, reporting a cybercrime is critical. “We all pay for cybercrime, either directly or through pass-along costs from our financial institutions,” said Tamim Taufiq, head of consumer sales, Mena at Symantec Corporation.

“Cybercriminals purposely steal small amounts to remain undetected, but all of these add up. If you fail to report a loss, you may actually be helping the criminal stay under the radar.”

The “human impact” aspect of the report delves further into the little crimes or white lies consumers perpetrate against friends, family, loved ones and businesses. Nearly half of respondents think it’s legal to download a single music track, album or movie without paying.

Twenty-four per cent believe it’s legal or perfectly okay to secretly view someone else’s e-mails or browser history.  Some of these behaviors, such as downloading files, open people up to additional security threats.

But there are simple steps people can take to protect themselves, according to the report.

“People resist protecting themselves and their computers because they think it’s too complicated,” said Anne Collier, co-director of ConnectSafely.org and editor of NetFamilyNews.org, who collaborated with Norton on the study.

“But everyone can take simple steps, such as having up-to-date, comprehensive security software in place. In the case of online crime, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.”

The best defense against cybercrime, and the best way to get protection, is to surf the Internet with up-to-date, comprehensive security software such as Norton Internet Security 2011, which was launched recently, a statement said. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Dubai | computer virus | identity theft | Cybercrimes | credit card fraud | Norton |

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