Cybercrime costs the world $114-billion every year. That’s according to calculations by Norton, which says a further $274-billion can be added to that figure based on the value victims surveyed placed on time lost due to their cybercrime experiences.

In South Africa, more than 4 646 online adults fell victim to cybercrime every day in the last year, suffering a staggering $573-million in direct financial losses and an additional $995,4-million in time spent resolving the crime.

With 431-million adult victims globally in the past year and at an annual price of $388-billion globally based on financial losses and time lost, cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined ($288-billion).

According to the Norton Cybercrime Report 2011 more than eight in 10 adults (84%), in South Africa have been a victim of cybercrime in their lifetime. Among these, 74% have fallen prey in the last 12 months alone.

Globally, every second, 14 adults become a victim of cybercrime, resulting in more than 1- million cybercrime victims every day.

For the first time, the Norton Cybercrime Report reveals that 16% of South African adults online have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phone. In fact, the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 16, reported there were 42% more mobile vulnerabilities, globally in 2010 compared to 2009 – a sign that cybercriminals are starting to focus their efforts on the mobile space.

The number of reported new mobile operating system vulnerabilities increased, from 115 in 2009 to 163 in 2010. In addition to threats on mobile devices, increased social networking and a lack of protection are likely to be some of the main culprits behind the growing number of cybercrime victims.

The study identifies men between 18 and 31 years old who access the Internet from their mobile phone as even more likely victims: in this group four in five (80%) have fallen prey to cybercrime.

Globally, the most common – and most preventable – type of cybercrime is computer viruses and malware with 54 percent of respondents saying they have experienced it in their lifetime. Viruses are followed by online scams (11%) and phishing messages (10%). Earlier this year the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 16, found more than 286-million unique variations of malicious software (malware) compared to the 240-million reported in 2009, representing a 19% increase.

“There is a serious disconnect in how people view the threat of cybercrime,” says Kara Rawden, senior marketing manager: consumer – Middle East & Africa at Symantec. “Cybercrime is much more prevalent than people realize. Over the past 12 months, moer than six in 10 adults surveyed (62%) in South Africa, have suffered from online crime while 35% have experienced offline crime, yet just 20% think they are more likely to become a victim of cybercrime than physical world crime in the next year.

“And, while 94% of respondents agree that more needs to be done to bring cybercriminals to justice, only 22% said that they reported cybercrime to the authorities. Fighting cybercrime is a shared responsibility. It requires us all to be more alert and to invest in our online smarts and safety.”

The disconnect between awareness and action is further illustrated by the fact that while 74% of respondents globally, say they are always aware of cybercrime, many are not taking the necessary precautions. Forty-one percent of adults indicated they don’t have an up-to-date security software suite to protect their personal information online, less than half review credit card statements regularly for fraud (47%), and 60% don’t use complex passwords or change them regularly. In South Africa, 70% of mobile phone owners use their mobile phone to access the Internet and 16% of all cybercrime in South Africa occurs on mobile devices. Despite the emergence of mobile cybercrime and its associated worries, many users put their personal information at risk when accessing the internet on mobile phones. Among those who access the Internet via their mobile phone, only 17% install the most up-to-date mobile security.