Cybercrime is Becoming Biggest Safety Threat, Experts Say

By: Amy Cheng

The internet is becoming a lifeline for more and more people and is being seen as an essential part of life, however, with the rise in cybercrime, the need to be vigilant is even greater, according to an expert in cybersecurity.

Dr Priyadarsi Nanda, a senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), believes it is important for people to have an understanding of the different websites they are browsing.

“More and more people are in the digital economy and the internet has become a lifeline for everybody now,” he said.

Preventing Cybercrime

With more people using the internet, there has also been a rise in cybercrime, but Dr Nanda said there are measures people can take to prevent themselves from falling victim; these differ across different demographics.

“The young generation, between the ages of 16 to 25, are the kind of people most vulnerable because they visit a lot of websites without understanding what information they’re sharing and with who,” he said.

“They need to be very careful about the kind of information they’re sharing on social media and amongst friends.”

The second group are aged between 26 and 35 and are mostly workers, according to Dr Nanda.

“They don’t have time to get themselves trained about things that are happening (online); they need to sit down and revisit their full (online) activities at least once a week to see if they’re doing the right thing in sharing information.”

The third group are between the ages of 36 and 60 and have a bigger social circle; they spend a lot of time with friends, relatives and family, Dr Nanda said.

If they encounter something unusual in their online activities, he recommends they discuss it with their social circle.

“When they meet together, they can have a discussion and start exploring how to get the necessary information and then follow the right kind of path to approach the right kind of people.

“Discussing will clarify a few things – maybe (their) friends and relatives might reveal that they also have had similar things and don’t know what to do, then there can be some collective approach in finding out where to approach and who to approach.”

The other vulnerable group in society are the elderly, according to Dr Nanda.

“Those who don’t have any specific technological knowledge or awareness, they are the ones most vulnerable, particular with pension accounts and bank accounts, so I think there should be some education at a community level.”

“Younger respondents were more likely to be victims of cybercrime, with 39 per cent of those surveyed, aged between 18 to 24, saying they experienced online abuse and harassment.”

Certain People are More Vulnerable to Cybercrime

report on cybercrime in Australia released by the Australian Institute of Criminology last month revealed that certain parts of the community are more vulnerable to cybercrime than others.

The inaugural report was based on a survey of 13,887 computer uses conducted in February and March this year.

It found that younger respondents were more likely to be victims of cybercrime, with 39 per cent of those surveyed, aged between 18 to 24, saying they experienced online abuse and harassment, which was a contrast with the group experiencing the least amount of online abuse (23 per cent), aged 65 years and above.

Victimisation also varied according to the respondents’ employment status, with unemployed respondents being the most likely to experience online abuse and harassment (31 per cent) and fraud and scams (9 per cent).

Employed respondents, on the other hand, were the most likely to have been a victim of malware (23 per cent) and identity crime and misuse (21 per cent).

“People should feel the right to go online and feel safe.”

Shifting Attitudes Towards Cybercrime

However, Anthony Morgan, AIC acting Deputy Director and author of the report, does not want people to be fearful of cybercrime.

“People should feel the right to go online and feel safe… but there are simple steps people can take to protect themselves,” he said.

Mr Morgan would like to change and shift people’s attitudes towards cybercrime.

“Sometimes it’s overlooked in favour of more traditional or high-profile crimes, but cybercrime is really becoming our biggest threat in terms of our safety,” he said.

“I think there are lots of occasions where people feel embarrassed about falling victim… I want people to realise that they’re not alone if they’ve experienced cybercrime and they can get help and help exists.

“I know people who’ve fallen victim and have experienced significant losses and the immediate reaction is ‘Oh my gosh, what a silly thing to have done’… and we don’t think like that for other crime types and that’s an attitude that we really need to shift.”

“I think there are lots of occasions where people feel embarrassed about falling victim.”

This is the first report in the Cybercrime in Australia series, which will report across cybercrime victimisation and impact and provide a barometer of how things are tracking; Mr Morgan and his team are currently testing the effect of certain prevention strategies.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash 

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