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Cybercrime cost per victim goes up by 50 per cent

While the number of people who have been victims of cybercrime was on the decline this year, the cost per victim is up 50 per cent, according to a new report from Symantec.

The global price tag of consumer cybercrime has risen to a whopping $113 billion (£69.7 billion) — enough to host the 2012 London Olympics almost 10 times, the firm said in its 2013 Norton Report.

Norton put the average cost per victim at about $298 — a 50 per cent increase over last year. There are approximately 378 million victims per year, or more than one million each day and 12 per second. The largest number of victims are found in Russia, China, and South Africa, Symantec said, while more men (64 per cent) are duped than women (58 per cent).

Symantec CTO Stephen Trilling said cyber criminals are deploying more sophisticated attacks, like ransomware and spear-phishing, which yield more money per attack. Not helping the matter is lax security on mobile gadgets.

"With the findings from the Norton Report that 49 per cent of consumers use their personal mobile device for both work and play, this creates entirely new security risks for enterprises as cybercriminals have the potential to access even more valuable information," said Trilling.

Even though almost half of all smartphone users rarely let their device out of sight, they are not actually protecting their data. In fact, 48 per cent of smartphone and tablet users don't take even basic precautions like setting a password, using security software, or backing up files on their mobile device. About 57 per cent are not even aware that mobile security solutions exist, according to Norton's survey of more than 13,000 online adults ages 18 to 64, from 24 countries.

No matter the monetary statistics, gadget owners seem to be much more security conscious on PCs than mobile devices.

"If this was a test, mobile consumers would be failing," Marian Merrit, Internet Safety Advocate at Symantec, said in a statement. "While consumers are protecting their computers, there is a general lack of awareness to safeguard their smartphones and tablets. It's as if they have alarm systems for their homes, but they're leaving their cars unlocked with the windows wide open."

But there's still time to ensure personal security. Norton suggests requiring a mobile password, in case of a lost or stolen device. Additionally, be careful about who has access to cloud-based files, and opt for a solution with built-in security. Though it seems like a lot of effort, everyone should regularly check credit card and bank statements for fraudulent transactions, and immediately report suspicious activity.

Image: West Midlands Police