Most people are aware of the need to secure themselves and their PCs, Macs or mobile devices, particularly when going online. However cybercrime is evolving at such a fast rate, and new forms are being detected each year. It’s bad enough that 40% of online adults aren’t aware that malware are capable of executing themselves discreetly, but what’s even more troubling is that 55% aren’t even sure if their systems are free of any viruses.
These are just some of the scary statistics that were discussed when I had the pleasure of representing NoypiGeeks at the 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report at the Torch Restaurant in Greenhills, which was hosted by Jason Mok, Consumer Sales Manager for Norton in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
The Cost of Cybercrime? $110 Billion in Just the Last Year
One way to quantify the cost of dealing with the damages of cybercrime is to put a figure on it. Just in the last year, that figure was $110 billion dollars, with an estimated 556 million online adults experiencing at least one form of cybercrime or another. That’s more than the entire population of the European Union and 46% of all adults who went online! How much is that per person? $197 or roughly more than Php8,000 in damages that would have been better off being spent somewhere else.
Old Precautions Aren’t Enough
There was a time when installing an antivirus program and firewall was considered enough protection for the average consumer. However, that certainly isn’t the case today with cybercriminals “changing their tactics to target fast growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” said Jason Mok. After all, who doesn’t have Facebook and a smartphone these days? What’s worse is that rather than the obvious BSOD (blue screen of death), crashing or malfunctioning symptoms that most users look out for, cybercriminals “want to avoid detection as long as possible.” Already, one in five online adults (21%) have become a victim of some form of social or mobile cybercrime. Out of all social network users, 39% had experienced some form of cybercrime:
- 15 percent of social network users had reported that someone had hacked into their account and pretended to be them.
- 1 in 10 users on social networks reported having fallen victim to a scam/fake link on a social network platform like Facebook and Twitter.
- Almost a third of mobile users (31%) admitted to having received a text messages that asked them to click on an embedded link or dial an unknown number to retrieve a “voicemail”.
What’s strange is that even though 75% of online adult users are aware of cybercriminals change in focus to social networks, less than half of them (44%) have started using a security solution to protect themselves from such threats, while only 49% of social network users take advantage of privacy controls to limit their information that can be publicly seen online. It certainly doesn’t help that some social networks have actually made it more complicated to fine tune what you want and don’t want to appear publicly on your profiles (*cough, Facebook, *cough).
Your Email is the Key to Your Online Kingdom
One of the most important things you should ever protect is your email address. It holds the keys to all of your other accounts. Once a cybercriminal gets access to your email, they can initiate a lost password request for various accounts, intercept the confirmation email, change your passwords and effectively lock you out of your own accounts while gaining access to any personal and financial information that might be stored on those accounts. Many of us are probably guilty of even keeping passwords to all of our accounts in our primary emails. And this is already a widespread problem. More than a quarter of all online adults (27%) reported being notified to change their passwords because their email had already been compromised. That means they had gained access to things like personal photos, potentially sensitive work-related correspondence and documents, banking statements, and passwords to other online accounts.
Then There’s Your Mobile device
Again, who doesn’t own a smartphone these days. We use our iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry and Nokias to interact with friends on Facebook, post tweets on Twitter, upload images with Instagram and advertize our current locations on Foursquare. We even check emails and take advantage of online banking and shopping on these powerful devices. Most often, we don’t even bother to log out of these accounts, making it easy for a cybercriminal to gain access to all of your personal and financial information without even entering a single password. Who hasn’t had a friend borrow your smartphone only to find that they posted “I’m gay” on your Facebook status? That’s just a friend – how much more if it’s a person with truly malicious intents?
The Consequences of a Compromised Identity
The scary thing about cybercrime is that criminals don’t necessarily have to have access your financial information to really wipe you out. Even if they just gain access to your social networking accounts, they can impersonate you and “borrow” money from your friends. Worse, they can gather all of your personal information – even information that you didn’t make public, such as phone numbers and your complete birthday – and use it to apply for new credit card accounts and loans in your name.
Steps You Can Take to Safeguard Yourself Online
- Use a complex password that is comprised of a mix of upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters. Don’t use things like your birthday or anniversary, which can easily be seen online through your public profile. Try using a free password manager like Norton Identity Safe that can help you remember multiple passwords across several accounts. And don’t forget to log out of your accounts if you’re on a public computer or if you’re using your smartphone on the road or just away from home.
- Use a suite of security software like Norton 360 to protect your PCs and Macs. Antivirus and Firewall features are essential, but a comprehensive suite should include online identity protection, browser protection, vulnerability protection, anti-phishing technology, email and IM monitoring, spam blocking, and frequent automatic updates.
- Check your credit card and banking statements frequently for any fraudulent transactions. The more frequently you check, the quicker you can detect if your financial information has been compromised.
- Even if you just suspect that your personal or financial information has been compromised, immediately change your usernames, passwords, and security questions. You will also want to immediately contact your bank or credit card company.
- Avoid blind-clicking on links within your social networks. Check if the title is too sensationalistic, or if the post was from an app or external link you aren’t familiar with. You might want to provide a solution like Norton Safe Web for Facebook, which is a free Facebook app that screens your news feed for malicious web links.
Norton 360 Multi-Device, Internet Security, and Antivirus
Of course, being a Norton by Symantec event, Jason Mok also announced the release of their latest and most comprehensive security suite, Norton 360 Multi-Device, along with the latest versions of its core products, Norton Internet Security and Norton Antivirus. Seeing as there are already many people who own multiple internet-enabled devices, it can be a hassle to buy individual security solutions for your PC or Mac desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet. Norton 360 Multi-Device addresses this issue by providing a complete, all-in-one solution that is easy to install and use right out of the box, while giving you 25Gb of free online storage.
If all you need is protection for either a PC or a Mac, you can choose from either Norton Antivirus or Norton Internet Security. Norton Antivirus provides basic virus detection and removal, while Norton Internet Security adds an extra layer of security by protecting you and your identity when you go online.
“Consumers are living nearly every aspect of their lives online and often putting personal information at risk,” said Jason Mok. “With our latest releases, Norton responds to this and other consumer vulnerabilities with stronger social media and scam protection to ensure consumers are safe in the multi-device, Wi-Fi enabled world.”
Norton Antivirus and Norton Internet Security are already available locally through retailers and buy.norton.com. One year’s subscription for Norton Internet Security is Php1,200 for a single PC and Php2,400 for up to 3PCs, while Norton Antivirus is Php990 to protect one PC and Php1,950 for up to 3 PCs. Norton 360 Multi-Device will be made available to the Philippines in November and pricing will be announced then.
UPDATE: Local pricing has been updated to reflect local pricing through local retailers.
**Despite that November release date, ACW Distribution, the Philippine distributors for Symantec Philippines, Inc., were kind enough to give us a free copy of Norton 360 Multi-Device for us to review. I’ll be installing it on both my PCs and phones at home and giving it some burn. Look forward to the full review in a week or two!