SA is among the top 10 countries found to have experienced the most cybercrime in 2021, according to research by cybersecurity company Surfshark.
The overall numbers in SA, which ranked sixth, are significantly lower than the UK’s, which topped the overall cybercrime density list for the second year in a row.
To put it in perspective, SA had 52 victims per one million internet users, almost 92 times less than the list-leading UK (4,783 victims per one million users).
The UK was followed by the US (1,494/1m), Canada (174/1m), Australia (102/1m) and Greece (72/1m).
The Netherlands, France, Germany and Mexico round up the top 10.
“As more of our lives become digital, the chances of falling victim to online crimes grow every year. Since 2001, the online crime victim count increased 17 times, and financial losses grew more than 400 times, from $2,000 to $788,000 losses per hour,” said Surfshark CEO Vytautas Kaziukonis.
Kaziukonis said the privacy and cybersecurity landscape will change rapidly over the next several years.
“Now is a good time to focus on personal cybersecurity hygiene to stay safer online.”
According to Surfshark’s study, phishing continues to be the most common cybercrime for the third year in a row.
In 2021, there were 323,972 phishing victims. In other words, every second individual who fell for an online crime fell for a phishing attack.
In 2020, there 241,343 phishing victims.
However, on average, phishing victims lost the least amount of money ($136 per victim), while people who fell victim to investment fraud lost the most ($70,811 per victim on average).
Investment fraud had the highest financial impact in total on its victims and people lost about $1.5bn this way in 2021.
The 24,300 confidence or romance fraud victims lost on average $39,345 in 2021 while 93,500 online payment fraud victims lost on average $4,655.
The research showed malware and ransomware attacks are becoming more exclusive to businesses.
They claimed around 4,500 victims in 2021.
There were 3,700 ransomware attack victims who collectively lost $49.2m and 800,000 malware attacks where victims collectively lost $45.6m.
Compared to phishing, that is more than 70 times fewer victims.
“As geopolitical tensions grow, we might see more cyber warfare and 0day spyware similar to Pegasus,” said Aleksandr Valentij, security officer at Surfshark.
A zero-day (0day) exploit is a cyber attack targeting a software vulnerability which is unknown to the software vendor or to antivirus vendors.
Surfshack said cybercrime is on a constant rise.
Since 2001, the online crime victim count increased 17 times (from six victims to 97 victims every hour) and financial losses grew almost 400 times (from $2,000 to $788,000 losses per hour).
“In total, cybercrime claimed at least 6,502,323 victims and $26,116,000,000 in losses over the 21 year period.”