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SA had 52 cybercrime victims per one million internet users in 2021, almost 92 times less than the list-leading UK (4,783 victims per one million users). File photo. Picture: 123RF/welcomia
SA had 52 cybercrime victims per one million internet users in 2021, almost 92 times less than the list-leading UK (4,783 victims per one million users). File photo. Picture: 123RF/welcomia

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 1-million internet users, almost 92 times less than the list-leading UK (3,409 victims per 1-million).

The UK was followed by the US (1,494 per 1-milion), Canada (174 per 1-milion), Australia (102 per 1-milion) and Greece (72 per 1-milion). 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 2020, there were 241,343 phishing victims. In 2021, there were 323,972 — in other words, every second individual who fell for an online crime fell for a phishing attack.

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; people lost about $1.5bn this way in 2021.

24,300 confidence or romance fraud victims lost on average $39,345 in 2021, while 93,500 online payment fraud victims lost an average of $4,655.

The research showed malware and ransomware attacks are becoming more exclusive to businesses with about 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 zero-day spyware similar to Pegasus,” said Aleksandr Valentij, security officer at Surfshark.

A zero-day exploit is a cyberattack targeting a software vulnerability that 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 $26,116bn in losses over the 21-year period.”

TimesLIVE

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