Over 2 million UAE consumers experienced cyber crime in 2015

nortonNorton by Symantec recently released its findings from the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report revealing over 2 million UAE citizens experienced cybercrime in the past year.

Surveying more than 17,000 consumers across the world, including 1,012 in the UAE, the research sheds light on the effects of consumer cybercrime.

Although it is often believed that the older generation is perceived as less tech savvy, the report in fact shows that mllennials, born in a digital era, are more likely to be affected. In the UAE, 42 percent of millennials have experienced online crime in the past 12 months, compared to 39 percent of Generation X.

Alarmingly, 15 percent of millennials have had their identity stolen (double that for Generation X, seven percent) and more than half of those Millennials surveyed know someone that has had their mobile device stolen. When looking at all respondents of the survey, UAE millennials reported that they are less likely to believe that it was easier to control personal information before the internet became mainstream and part of everyone’s daily routine (44 percent of Millennials vs. 50 percent of UAE consumers).

Tamim Taufiq
Tamim Taufiq, Middle East Manager, Norton Business Unit

“We no longer need convincing of the risks – cybercrime has unfortunately become a fact of life in the UAE,” said Tamim Taufiq, Middle East Manager, Norton Business Unit. “Our findings demonstrate that the reality of cybercrime still hasn’t led to widespread adoption of simple, yet secure protection measures.  As the UAE becomes increasingly mobile savvy, this should be reflected in the approach all generations make to safe-guarding their personal information and their loved ones.”

The Generational Divide

One potential explanation is the older generation’s cautious approach to online safety. Millennials report riskier behaviour compared to other age groups and also have a more relaxed approach:

  • 37 percent of Millennials in the UAE, are more likely to share their passwords compared to 25 percent of Generation X and 27 percent of the elder generation.
  • The report indicated that the Millennial age group appeared to be less concerned about having their credit card information compromised while traveling abroad.
  • 53 percent of Millennials feel their chance of getting a computer virus is more likely than catching a cold/virus on public transport, compared to 58 percent for the older generations.
  • Millennials in the UAE are less likely to find using public Wi-Fi risky compared to their elders and would rather have a confrontation with a hacker organisation than deal with someone breaking into to their home.

The Toll of Cybercrime in UAE

In the last year, UAE consumers lost close to a day and a half (30 hours) dealing with the consequences of online crime. It also cost an average of AED 2,331 per person – with UAE respondents losing just under AED 5 billion in total. On top of the costs and time involved to recover from cybercrime, the findings also highlighted the emotional strain cybercrime can have on consumers.

  • 63 percent of in the UAE would find the consequences of identity theft stressful than those who find preparing for a presentation at work stressful (44 percent).
  • Generation X respondents reported a higher level of anxiety and frustration compared to other age groups, with Millennials more likely to feel ‘indifferent’.
  • Still, compared to global counterparts, UAE consumers feel less of an emotional impact – with 42 percent of UAE consumers stating they felt ‘frustrated and annoyed’ following a cyber-breach, compared to the global average of 52 percent.

Cyber Activity Facing UAE Consumers
Respondents in the UAE reported a range of breaches and cyber activity they had experienced in the last year. With an increasing number of individuals connected and using mobile devices, mirrored by the growing amount of social media fans, cyber threats are becoming ubiquitous amongst all age ranges.

  • More than half of all UAE consumers reported that an account password had been compromised.
  • Of those who have experienced ransomware, one third stated that they had experienced ransomware in the last six months. Of those consumers affected, 67 percent paid the fee and 30 percent indicated that even after paying the fee, they did not obtain access to their digital assets.
  • Also, a disturbing 44 percent of Millennials either know of or have been directly impacted by a post on social media falsely published in their name – either impacting their employment path or passed up for employment.

Overconfident, But Underprepared

Despite concern about online crime becoming widespread, consumers are overconfident in their online security behaviours.

  • Nearly one in four consumers use devices that have not been protected (22 percent) and three in four do not have security software installed on their smartphone (77 percent).
  • 73 percent of UAE consumers feel the chance of experiencing online crime is significant enough to worry about.
  • However, whilst only, 26 percent of UAE consumers feel completely in control of their online security; while low, it is significantly higher than the global average (15 percent).
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