Victims in the UAE lose $746 million a year to cyber crime, according to new research by UK technology comparison website Comparitech.
Victims of cyber crime worldwide lose $318 billion each year, the study found. About 71.1 million people in the world fall victim to cyber crime each year, which equates to nearly 900 victims per 100,000 people, and the average victim’s loss is $4,476 per cyber crime, the Comparitech research revealed.
The company made the calculation based on an analysis of cyber crime reports in 67 countries for which this information was available in either 2018-2019 or 2019-2020.
“Cyber crime is still severely underreported by police and government entities and the true monetary value remains largely unknown,” the study said.
Remote working and rapid digital transformation because of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in cyber crime globally.
The average global cost of a data breach rose by about 10 per cent a year to $4.2m over the past 12 months, according to IBM.
The countries that experienced the highest losses as a result of cyber crime are the US ($28bn), Brazil ($26bn), the UK ($17.4bn) and Russia ($15.2bn), according to Comparitech research.
In comparison, the UAE recorded 166,667 victims losing $746m to cyber crime annually, the study said.
The country that experienced the largest increase in cyber crime was Sri Lanka, with a 359 per cent year-on-year increase from 2019 to 2020 (3,566 to 16,376 reports).
Most (15,895) of these reports related to social media crimes, probably caused by the increased use of these platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Significant increases in reported cyber crime were also observed in Belarus (176 per cent), Indonesia (140 per cent), Puerto Rico (125 per cent) and Panama (100 per cent).
In contrast, countries that experienced a decreases in cyber crimes were Croatia (59 per cent), Paraguay (58 per cent), Kuwait (27 per cent), Australia (7 per cent) and China (5 per cent), according to Comparitech.
The country with the highest proportion of cyber crime victims was the UK, with 1,095 per 100,000 people submitting reports. This was followed by Denmark (514 per 100,000 people), Spain (463 per 100,000 people), Brazil (415 per 100,000 people) and Austria (404 per 100,000 people), the study revealed.
Cyber crime is a wide-ranging term, according to Comparitech. “From an online data breach to a flurry of botnet attacks, the sheer scale of cyber crime is vast and, to some extent, unknown,” the report said.
While the Comparitech study focuses more on targeted crimes that seek to exploit individuals, steal someone’s data, or illegally access computer systems or networks, the report said there is a huge difference between how each police or government reports on cyber crime.
“Cyber crimes are heavily underreported both in terms of victims reporting the crimes and governments creating reports about cyber crime levels in their countries,” the study said.
Figures may also vary depending on what the reporting entity includes within its losses and whether or not lost time, replacement computers, police time, recovery costs, and other factors are added, it said.
“With the lack of transparency and reporting around these types of crimes, it is difficult to gauge the true extent of the problem … until we are able to see the real cost of these crimes on a country-by-country basis, cyber criminals will continue to have the upper hand,” Comparitech said.
“Lack of reporting will lead to a loss in victim confidence (and a reluctance to report the crime), gaps in the awareness of these types of crimes, and inadequate legislation and criminal procedures to hold cyber criminals to account,” the company said.