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Online Scams Leave One In Ten Out Of Pocket

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Nearly half of consumers targeted by online scams in 2015, with one in ten losing money, Kaspersky report finds

Just under half of the world’s population were subjected to some form of Internet-based crime attempt during last year, new research has revealed.

2015 proved to be a record-breaking year for cybercrime, Kaspersky Lab research found, as the company’s annual security report revealed that during a 12 month period, 48 percent of consumers were targeted by online scams that sought to either defraud or trick them into revealing sensitive and financial information.

Under attack

ransomwareThe types of online threats being reported include receiving suspicious emails that claimed to be from a bank (22 percent) or retail site (15 percent) and suspicious web pages asking for financial data (eleven percent).

And the report revealed how lucrative these scams are for attackers, after it found an alarming eleven percent of people had lost money as a result of being targeted online.

The financial threats saw six percent of survey respondents losing money due to online scams or fraud. A further four percent fell victim to data leakage and loss through a financial organisation and three percent have had cryptocurrency (such as BitCoin) or e-money funds stolen.

The sums being lost to these scams about are not overly large, but when added together, reveal the money-making potential for attackers. The study found that where money had been stolen, victims suffered an estimated median loss of £195, while every fifth (22 percent) lost more than £690.

Only half (54 percent) of those affected by money loss managed to recover all of their stolen funds and a quarter (23 percent) did not manage to get any of it back.

The variety of online financial threats against consumers is growing,” said Ross Hogan, global head of fraud prevention division at Kaspersky Lab.

“Along with the more traditional-style scams, we are starting to see cybercriminals exploit and look for new ways to defraud consumers, making it even more important for Internet users to be on their guard when conducting online financial transactions or clicking on suspicious links pertaining to be from their bank.”

“Whilst monetary loss as a result of a financial organisation data breach or cryptocurrency scam is still relatively low, it is a lucrative way for online fraudsters to target and steal money from Internet users.”

Hogan added that Kaspersky Lab was working with banks and financial institutions to put in place sufficient protection.

“With new threats evolving every day, consumers expect their providers to keep up and ensure the safety of their money and financial transactions,” he said.

And the research revealed people now have multiple routes to the Internet, after the study found that 67 percent of Internet users have several devices to go online. 23 percent said they use a mobile device to go online at home.

Alarmingly, 88 percent of us store important information on our digital devices (48 percent store passwords or account login data; and 28 percent store financial data). Yet just 36 percent have implemented strong privacy settings.

Users To Blame?

The Kaspersky Lab study is not the only research examining cybercrime against computer users.

A recent survey from Deloitte for example estimated that a fifth of British consumers were the victim of cybercrime during 2015, with twenty-one percent claiming they had personal details stolen and their bank accounts used to buy goods and services as a result of a cyber security breach.

Authorities are beginning to react (slowly) to the threats online. From this July for example, British police will include cybercrime estimates in official crime statistics for the first time.

But some in charge believe that ultimately it is the consumer that is to blame.

In March one of the UK’s most senior police leaders said that victims of online fraud don’t deserve to receive a refund.

Sir Bernard Horgan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, said that consumers should be focused on protecting themselves better against the increasing threat of cybercrime, and are being “rewarded for bad behaviour” by being refunded for crimes committed against them.

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