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Indians lost $28 billion to cybercrime last year. You're not as safe as you think

Ranjan Crasta | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 9:49 IST

Given that the internet seems to be where we all live these days, you'd imagine we'd take cybersecurity a little more seriously. But 113 million victims of cybercrime in India alone would suggest otherwise.

Yes, according to Norton's latest Cybersecurity Insights Report, the number of victims of cybercrime in India alone is larger than the populations of Germany and Australia combined. The rest of the report makes for equally grim reading.

The C word

It's been a remarkable year as far as cybercrime is concerned; from Ashley Madison to Sony, cybercrime has made the headlines more than once.

In all, Norton estimates that 594 million worldwide were victims of cybercrime.

Given that figure, the Indian figures are even more shocking - they indicate that one in every six cybercrime victims is an Indian.

Yes, India has a large internet-using population, but given the consequences our laxity on the security front is hard to understand.

On average, users worldwide lost around $358 due to crimes online. That works out to over 212 billion dollars in the last year alone. While Indians lost about $100 dollars less on average (Rs 16,558 average), it still works out a whopping amount when taken together.

In total Indians alone lost over $28 billion dollars over the past year.

And if you're one of those "time is money" people, that figure only gets worse. What Indians seem to "save" financially as far as cybercrime goes, we make up for in time spent dealing with it. We spend an average of 29 hours dealing with cybercrimes as opposed to the global average of 21 hours.

Confidence over competence

It's not that Indians aren't aware, or, more importantly, concerned about cybercrime. On the contrary, well over half (60%) of those surveyed said they were worried about becoming victims. Heck, according to the report, 2 in 3 Indians even consider using public WiFi riskier than a public toilet. Given the state of our public toilets, that's a grim acceptance of the dangers. How, then, have we arrived at a situation where close to half of our internet-using population has suffered online crime?

The problem is a misplaced confidence in our security measures. Most of those surveyed gave themselves a solid A grade when it came to security practices, but the actual results told a different story.

Only 41% actually used a password that meets the basic standards of security (a combination of 8 letters, numbers and symbols).

A large number of people surveyed even admitted sharing passwords to sensitive accounts with other people. And those were the people who used passwords at all. A third of Indians don't even password-protect their desktops and smartphones.

It's a cybersecurity nightmare - and a cyber-criminal's dream.

Still, you'd imagine in a world where people are exposed to the web at ever younger ages, that's bound to change.

Unfortunately, that just isn't the case.

Familiarity breeds complacency, and that's true digitally too

While the stereotype is that older people would be more likely to get duped by the 'magic' that is the internet, the opposite is actually true.

Baby Boomers - maybe out of their inherent old-fashioned caution - actually had more secure online behaviour than any other age group.

Millenials on the other hand... 4 in 10 don't believe they're 'interesting enough' to be targeted. Yet, 7 in 10 have been victims of cybercrime, of which one in 2 has experienced it within the last year.

Like much else about millennial behaviour, this just doesn't add up - but hopefully, there's a less expensive way than a hacked bank account for us to learn.

First published: 22 November 2015, 12:09 IST
Ranjan Crasta @jah_crastafari

The Ranjan (Beardus Horribilis) is a largely land-dwelling herbivorous mammal. Originally from a far more tropical habitat, the Ranjan can now be found wandering the streets of Delhi complaining about the weather, looking for watering holes and foraging for affordable snacks. Mostly human, mostly happy and mostly harmless, the Ranjan is prone to mood swings when deprived of his morning coffee. Having recently migrated to the Catch offices, he now inhabits a shadowy corner and spends his time distracting people and producing video content to distract them further.