Friday, September 09, 2011

Norton report on cybercrime

A new report from Norton - the people who do online security - says cybercrime is costing New Zealanders $256 million in cash costs and $300 million in lost time.  They claim that 72% of New Zealanders reported having been victims of cybercrime.  At one point the figures are noted as 'extrapolated' costs - big figures worked out from little ones, in other words.   The way these figures came about are towards the end of the report. 

One of the more curious statements is: Cybercrime victims are twice as likely to have been a victim of crime in the physical world than non-cybercrime victims.  I guess there's something to back this up somewhere in the report, but I missed it. 

The report was based on information from almost 20,000 online interviews.   These took place not just in New Zealand, but around the world.  How many people were interviewed in New Zealand, then?  
You can see the actual report here - it's quite comprehensive, and laid out as a long strip of information sliding from right to left.   There are animations scattered throughout which are supposed to explain more, but some of them seemed to add to the lack of real statistical information.   

If you read through the report, you find that where the costs are coming from seems to be more the cost of time spent in fighting cybercrime, rather than loss of money via stolen credit cards and the like.  Statements like at $388bn, cybercrime is more than 100 times the annual expenditure of UNICEF ($3.65 billion) are placed throughout the report.  

My suspicion throughout this report is that it's a glossy way of advertising Norton's products.  While these may be worth having (as any security online is worth having), this rather takes away from the value of the report.   According to Norton there are 1 million victims of cybercrime a day: the crimes listed are malware and viruses, scams and phishing.   Yes, all very annoying, but hardly about to bring the globe down around our ears. There are finally some definitions of what 'cybercrime' is, in the context of the report, way towards the end.

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