Cybercrime SOS: A global perspective on cybercrime

By Rikard af Sandeberg, Managing Director Denmark and Norway, Affinion

As consumers, we are increasingly living our lives online. This has opened up huge opportunities – but also challenges, particularly around personal information and security. With growing awareness of cybercrime, it’s inevitably having an impact on the public psyche. Our Cybercrime SOS report, published today, explores this in more detail. Following extensive research involving more than 13,000 individuals in 12 countries, we are now able to piece together a much clearer picture of attitudes surrounding cybercrime.

The research has thrown up interesting trends across the world – the cybercrime landscape varies along geographical and gender lines – and has highlighted the need for greater education and empowerment if we are going to reduce the risk of falling foul of cyber fraudsters.

The cyber threat grows

Cybercrime comes in multiple guises such as malware, ransomware, hacking social media or email accounts; identity theft or phishing. It is increasingly on the global news agenda, whether that is headlines about major breaches of customer data or large-scale international hacks like the WannaCry ransomware attack of May 2017.

Cybercrime can have a disastrous impact on victims. In our research, we found that a third of people have been impacted by ID theft and 65 per cent have received fake calls, email links or SMS messages. Fifty-six per cent have had a social media or email account hacked and 55 per cent have suffered from fraudulent financial transactions.

These findings are not surprising considering the lack of awareness many revealed regarding internet safety. We discovered that:

• A third of consumers (35%) incorrectly believe that public Wi-Fi has to, by law, have effective security
• Less than half (46%) know that https:// means a website is secure
• A third (33%) aren’t aware that using the same password across accounts impacts the risk of fraud

As the forms and execution of cybercrime become more sophisticated, consumers are increasingly troubled. In fact, individuals expressed more concern about cybercrime than any other form of crime – 61 per cent of consumers are very or quite concerned about cybercrime, compared to 52 per cent who are concerned about property crime (e.g. burglary), 54 per cent about physical crime such as assault, and 45 per cent about vehicle crime. However, awareness of cybercrime seems to grow with age: respondents aged 18–24 were more concerned about physical crime than cybercrime, but from the age of 35 onwards, cybercrime is perceived as the greater risk.

When it comes to gender, women are more concerned than men across all types of cybercrime. The biggest difference is regarding online shopping fraud (67% women show concern, vs 59% men), ID theft (68% vs 60%) and fraudulent transactions (69% vs 61%).

Lost identity

One of the greatest fears is falling victim to identity theft, perhaps because it causes great personal stress. Not only do victims often incur financial loss, they may find themselves impersonated online in a way that seriously compromises their reputation. What’s more, identity problems can persist for months or even years and prove very difficult and time-consuming to resolve. The stakes are high and consumers need, and want, educating on the risks surrounding cybercrime, how to protect themselves and how to detect and resolve incidents if they occur.

This is a subject close to our hearts – we have spent decades working alongside our clients in the banking, insurance and telecommunications industry and encouraging them to understand their customers’ fears, needs and areas of enjoyment so that they can offer services that align with these things and therefore build greater engagement. We are convinced that when a business understands what its customers value then it is able to develop deeper and longer-lasting connections with them. That’s why this research is so important – it shows organisations that consumers worldwide are concerned about cybercrime and looking for support.

There is a clear need and opportunity for organisations to provide cyber and identity protection services and embed themselves further in the lives of customers. Companies that do this will be rewarded with loyal customers, improved brand perception and a first-mover advantage in offering something different and useful.

To read the full report visit: https://affinion.fi/insight/cybercrimesos/