Hackers stole AED 3.86 billion from 3.72 million consumers in the UAE last year, according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, released today by Norton by Symantec.
Within the last year more than half (52%) of the country’s adult online population experienced cybercrime, and each victim lost an average of AED 669 and 47.9 hours (about six working days) dealing with the aftermath of cybercrime.
In the UAE, cybercrime victims share a similar profile: they are everyday consumers who express confidence and use multiple devices whether at home or on the go.
The report found that cybercrime victims were twice as likely to own a connected home device. Consumers with an Internet-connected gaming console, wearable device, or a smart device that streams content were also a more likely to fall victim to cybercrime.
UAE cybercrime victims were also more likely to have a blind spot when it comes to cybersecurity basics, leaving their virtual backdoor open. Victims are more likely to use the same online password across all their accounts (24% of cybercrime victims versus 20% of non-victims), or using different passwords but save them on their computer’s web browser (16 per cent versus 10 per cent), negating their security efforts.
They were also more likely to save their passwords to a file on their device as non-victims (24% versus 18%).
Equally concerning, 45% of UAE cybercrime victims – despite their experience – had a higher trust in their own ability to protect their data and personal information from future attacks and one-third (32%) believed they had a low risk of becoming a cybercrime victim.
Perhaps surprisingly, millennials were far more likely to experience cybercrime compared to other generations.
According to the study, they also make similar mistakes such as using the same password across accounts and sharing their password with others.
One in five millennials also admit to not having any protective measures in place for at least one of their devices.
“Consumers’ actions revealed a dangerous disconnect: despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, too many people appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves,” said Tamim Taufiq, head of Norton Middle East. “This disconnect highlights the need for consumer digital safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime.”
More than one in ten UAE consumers (13%) have experienced ransomware, and for those who fell victim it has proven a costly affair. Those who experienced ransomware reported losing an average of 89 hours dealing with the aftermath, and nearly one in five (18%) paid the ransom and got nothing in return.
With half of UAE consumers (49%) admitting they never backup all their devices and one in 13 admitting they never implement software updates, a significant number are at risk of losing their digital property for good.
“Paying the ransom may seem like a natural response to get your personal files back,” said Taufiq. “However, handing the hackers money simply continues to fund their efforts with no guarantee that you’ll personally be able to regain access to your digital life. In the case of ransomware- crime pays, and we can all take some simple steps to thwart their efforts.”
Of those who have ever fallen victim to cybercrime, 73 per cent experienced an attack within the last year. Fifty-three percent had a device infected by malware, 44% had their home Wi-Fi cracked into without their permission, 43% were notified their personal information had been compromised as a result of a data breach.
Meanwhile, 39 percent provided personal or financial information as a result of responding to a bogus email, 29% were duped into fraudulent online purchases, 29% had payment information stolen from their phones, while 24% fell for technical support scams.