Norton by Symantec claims that up to 8.8 million South Africans fell victim to some form of cybercrime in the past year.

The findings are part of Norton’s Cybersecurity Insights Report, where it surveyed 1 000 South Africans in addition to 17 000 other consumers across 18 countries.

The survey also revealed some interesting thoughts about cybercrime in general:

  • 76% of South Africans believe that identity theft is more likely than ever before;
  • 2 in 3 (67%) feel it is more difficult to control their personal information as a result of smartphones and the Internet;
  • South Africans are engaged with the topic of security (78% acknowledge the need to actively protect their information), but there is still some notion that security is an inconvenience;
  • 58% would rather cancel dinner plans with their best friend than have to cancel their credit/debit cards after their account has been compromised;
  • The same percentage (58%) would rather endure a terrible date than deal with credit/debit card customer service after a breach or hack.

Norton revealed that social networks are also being targeted at a growing rate.

“Online crimes are increasingly prevalent with more than 1 in 7 having had unauthorised access to a social network profile,” the company said in a statement. “Compared to their global counterparts, South Africans have heightened sensitivity to online information compromises – 76 percent believed identity theft was more likely than ever before and 67 percent said it was easier to control personal information before smartphones and the Internet.”

South Africans also feel that they are more tech-savvy than the rest of the world, but this assumption turned out to be slightly inaccurate. Norton explained that of those who participated in the survey, 31% said it was easier to just abandon a social media account than delete it “simply because it was easier.”

It also seems that elderly people are less likely to be victims of cybercrime, as only 23% of those over 55 have been victims, while 39% and 37% respectively of Millennials and Generation X’ers were victims.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 does not have a password on his/her smartphone or desktop computer;
  • 6 in 10 consumers say it is riskier to share their email passwords with a friend than lend him/her their car for a day;
  • Storing credit/banking information in the cloud is viewed as riskier than not wearing a seatbelt;
  • South Africans are more likely to own internet-enabled devices than their global counterparts; smartphones and laptops being most common;
  • Though most devices are protected, South Africans falter when it comes to protecting home theatre devices, wearables, and Internet-connected video game systems;
  • Devices considered easiest to hack are among the most frequently used, such as a smartphones and laptops.

Fortunately, the study reveals that consumers are slowly coming around to the importance of protecting themselves online.

“The good news is more and more consumers are aware of the risks of cybercrime but the bad news is they neither feel they are doing enough to prevent it, or feel that technology has prevented them from being able to do anything about it,” said David Ribeiro, Head of Norton, Middle East and Africa.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Brian Klug]
Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.