According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Cybercrime is large, rapidly growing, profitable and highly evolved; annual loss estimates range from billions to nearly $1 trillion”. In the last year there were 556 million victims of cybercrime around the world, and I was one of them. Someone hacked into my bank account last October and funded their trip to Machu Pichu on my dime. I can honestly say that I had never felt so victimized in my life. The thought that someone had and was readily using my debit card information was mind boggling. I’d never shared my number with anyone, I am relatively safe online (or so I thought), I don’t click on popup ads. I just had no idea how this could happen, especially to someone who will not throw out a piece of paper with her name on it, unless it’s shredded in tiny pieces. I had so many questions from how could this happen to me? Will the perpetrator(s) ever be caught? To how can I make sure this never happens again? Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking with Marian Merritt, an Internet Safety Advocate and advisor for Norton to talk about the latest trends in cybercrime, and what we can do to protect ourselves once and for all!
Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate and Advisor for Norton. Image courtesy of Flickr
Cybercrime Marian Merritt and Candace Rose Anderson interview audio.
Candace Rose: What are some of the top findings you’re seeing in this year’s Cybercrime Report?
Marian Merritt: In the Norton’s Cybercrime Report that just came out we found out that in the past year some 46% of people around the world have already been victim of some type of cybercrime. And when you look at on a lifetime basis 67% of people have had this experience. And it costs us consumers around $110 billion just in the last 12 months. What we also saw in the study is that cybercrime is starting to move into new areas like social media and onto our mobile devices like our smartphones.”
Candace Rose: What can we do to protect ourselves?
Marian Merritt: “Well, certainly we want people to be aware of these new concerns and to protect whatever device they’re using to get online. So if two-thirds of us are accessing the internet using a mobile device well then those mobile devices need to be secured with security software. If that doesn’t convince you, just know that 35% of adults in our study have had their mobile device lost or stolen, and we know that if your device or stolen, whoever finds it will go through your private information, even if they intend to return the device.
Put passwords on your device. And speaking of passwords, strong passwords go a long way towards protecting you from cybercrime. As an example: if a hacker got access to your email account, they could then use the forgot your password feature on all the other websites you use, and changing those passwords they’d now have control of your entire online life. So good passwords- unique, complex ones. It can be hard to manage and remember all of them if you’re doing it properly, so I do recommend you use a password manager like the free one from Norton called Norton Identity Safe. It’s also built right into our security software and it really eliminates the hassle of having to remember so many passwords.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the latest cybercrime trends?
Marian Merritt: “Well, I mentioned that cybercrime is moving into our social networks, and one in four people report being a victim. One in six said they’ve had the account hacked. You may see strange messages appear- ‘helped I’m robbed in London and I need money to get home’. You may see videos- ‘you won’t believe what this guy saw’, and they’re all trying to get you to click a link, click a like so they can either spread to your friends or they want you to download something malicious onto your own computer so it can steal your information. Because ultimately cyber criminals just want to get money from you, and they have these various methods and some which seem a little odd, but they work. They work because we consumers, we trust people in our social networks, even when maybe we shouldn’t.”
Candace Rose: What can you do if you have been victimized?
Marian Merritt: “Well, you certainly want to check all of the accounts you think you’ve been victimized in for any sign of fraudulent activity so you can report it. You should also change the passwords so you’re notified you’ve been involved in a data breach- maybe your bank or some place you shop, you want to change the password and look for strange activity and if you do find you’ve been a victim, you can always report it to your local law enforcement or even to the federal government at a website: IC3.gov.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Marian Merritt: “Well, I was surprised to discover 36% of people in the study, and remember a global study of 13,000 people, 36% were accepting complete strangers as friends in their social networks and since social networks are kind of the new frontier for cybercrime, let’s put a stop to that. I would really encourage people to only friend people you know and trust because every new person into your social network is a potential risk for cybercrime.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Marian Merritt: “For more information on this report, but also to get information on products to protect you, please visit Norton.com.”