Internet crime costs €300m

Irish computer users may have lost up to €300m from cybercrime, according to a survey of 1,000 adults.

The survey, commissioned by computer security company ESET Ireland and conducted by Amárach Research, found that one-in-four adults surveyed had been ripped off as a result of cybercrime.

The financial loss ranged from having to repair computers because of malicious viruses to having credit and debit cards abused online or over the phone.

The survey found that of the 22% of adults who lost money through cybercrime:

- 9% were scammed of less than €50;

- 4% lost between €51 and 100;

- 4% suffered losses of between €101 and €200;

- 2% lost between €201 and €500;

- 1% each lost between €501-€1000; €1001-€3000 and €3000 plus.

If the findings were reflective of the adult population as a whole, ESET said the extrapolated results would suggest around €300m was lost as a result of this type of crime.

“Everyone knows virus infections occur, cards get abused, scams happen,” said Urban Schrott, IT Security and Cybercrime Analyst with ESET Ireland.

“But the prevailing sentiment is still that it’s something that happens rarely and it’s primarily just a nuisance. Our survey reveals it has likely happened to someone you know and it actually cost them money.”

“Cyber-threats can incur financial damage in many ways. From the costs of having an infected computer repaired, or having your credit card abused online, to the recent wave of ransomware infections, which lock your files and demand a ransom to unlock them.”

The survey found the problem varied across the country, with only 19% of people in Dublin and the rest of Leinster falling victim, compared to 30% of computer users in Connaught and Ulster.

“Females and the older generation seem to be more cautious, with 20% females versus 24% of males and the older age group of 45-54 with 19% versus the younger group of 25-34 with 27% having suffered financial consequences of their online activities,” said Mr Schrott. “In one of our previous surveys we have found out that 54% of Irish computer users have already suffered a malware infection, 15% had their credit/debit card abused, and 14% were victims of online or phone scams.”

Cybercrime tips

- Keep your computer system and your anti-virus software patched and up to date.

- Don’t open suspicious files, go to suspicious websites or download pirated materials particularly if your anti-virus software warns you you’re about to open something dangerous.

- Be very careful with your online banking and credit card information: if you’re unsure of anything you’ve received online, ring your bank and ask.

- Stay informed about latest threats, so you know what to avoid.


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