How Does the Threat of Cybercrime Differ Around the World?
The internet has given humanity countless benefits, from having a world of information at your fingertips to being able to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family from anywhere. The digital revolution has truly changed the way we live our lives and become an integral part of everyday life.
However, this digital frontier opens up a world of risk as well as opportunity. With everyone on the planet just a click of a button away, it has never been easier for fraudsters and criminals to find unsuspecting victims.
This has led to a booming new province for the criminally-minded, who can plague innocent internet users from the comfort and security of their own homes.
The threat isn’t limited to individuals either, with governments and multinational corporations also in the cybercriminals’ crosshairs.
The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) tracks cyber attacks on government bodies, defense agencies, and high-tech companies, and economic crimes that affect a loss of at least $1 million. CSIS data shows that 105 of these attacks occurred in 2019, increasing by 400% from 2009 levels.
To counteract these increasing cyber threats, countries have been developing strong cybersecurity programs, and enacting legislation aimed at tackling cybercrime and protecting themselves from digital dangers.
In addition to this, the private sector has been at the forefront of developing innovative cybersecurity solutions ranging from antivirus programs to fraud prevention software.
For instance, businesses can vastly reduce risk by utilizing anti-fraud products such as data enrichment and browser fingerprinting to block suspicious logins, prevent account takeovers, and detect when someone is using multiple accounts.
While the combination of public and private sector efforts to tame the digital Wild West has made it more difficult for online fraudsters in some respects, cybercrime remains a persistent threat for internet users.
But what are the most common forms of cybercrime? And is this threat spread equally around the globe?
The Cyber Threat around the Globe
To find out if the dangers of cybercrime are equally spread across the globe we’ve taken a look at almost 100 countries to see how much of a threat cybercrime is in their part of the world.
Combining data from numerous cybersecurity indices and indicators, we’ve created a global ranking to unveil the countries that are the least and most risky for internet users.
The Most Low-Risk Countries for Cyber Threats
These are the countries where cybersecurity is strongest, and people are most protected from cybercrime through legislation and technology. Does your country make the top ten?
Denmark – Cyber-Safety Score: 8.91
Denmark is the most digitally secure country, with an overall Cyber-Safety Score of 8.91. Denmark scored highly in both featured cybersecurity indices, and did particularly well on the Cybersecurity Exposure Index, scoring just 0.117.
Germany – Cyber-Safety Score: 8.76
Germany came second overall, with a Cyber-Safety Score of 8.76. This tells us that Germany is generally a very safe place for people to use the internet. We can attribute this rank to a very good result in the Global Cybersecurity Index combined with comprehensive laws and regulations.
United States – Cyber-Safety Score: 8.73
The United States placed third in the rankings with a Cyber-Safety Score of 8.73, just missing out on second place. This high score was helped by the USA getting the highest score in the Global Cybersecurity Index while also performing well in terms of low cybersecurity exposure and strong legislation.
The Most High-Risk Countries for Cyber Threats
At the other end of the scale are the countries that offer the least protection against cybercrime. These countries have very weak legislation regarding cybercrime or even none at all, and therefore carry the greatest risk for carrying out transactions that involve your personal information. Here we’ve listed the ten countries with the lowest overall Cyber-Safety Score.
Myanmar – Cyber-Safety Score: 2.22
Myanmar is the worst country for internet safety, scoring just 2.22 on our Global Cyber-Safety Index. Myanmar scores poorly across the board, especially in terms of legislation, as hardly any has been enacted to put barriers in the way of cybercriminals.
Cambodia – Cyber-Safety Score: 2.67
In second place is Cambodia, which earned a Cyber-Safety Score of 2.67 overall. Another Southeast Asian nation with poor internet security, Cambodia does perform marginally better than Myanmar in every metric other than the Global Cybersecurity Index.
Honduras – Cyber-Safety Score: 3.13
Honduras takes third place with a score of 3.13. This Central American country scored the absolute lowest on the Global Cybersecurity Index of any in our study while performing poorly in all other areas. However, Honduras does perform twice as well as Myanmar and Cambodia in terms of anti-cybercrime legislation.
The Most Common Forms of Cybercrime
Here we can see the most commonly reported cybercrimes of 2020. These figures come from the US Internet Crime Complaints Center, so they are limited only to cybercrimes committed in the United States and are skewed by what people actually report in a complaint.
However, they do provide a clear insight into the current trends followed by cybercriminals, showing the ways in which the internet is most commonly used for illegal activity.
Phishing and Pharming – 2020 USA Victim Count: 241,342
The most common type of cybercrime in the US is phishing and pharming, which accounted for 32.96% of all reported cybercrime in the country in 2020. Phishing and pharming refer to the fraudulent practice of luring people into revealing personal information, such as passwords, login details and credit card numbers.
When carried out via email this practice is referred to as phishing, with it being referred to as pharming when the victim is directed to a fake website disguised as a legitimate one.
Non-Payment/Non-Delivery – 2020 USA Victim Count: 108,869
The second most common type of cybercrime was non-payment and non-delivery, which was reported 108,869 times and made up 14.87% of cybercrimes. Non-payment refers to a buyer not paying for goods or services received, while non-delivery refers to the failure to deliver goods or services that have been paid for.
Extortion – 2020 USA Victim Count: 76,741
Extortion is the third most common form of cybercrime, with 76,741 reported incidents in 2020, which reflect 10.48% of all cybercrime in the USA. Extortion comes in several forms, with the most common being the use of ransomware to seize access to your files and devices, followed by a demand for money, cryptocurrency, gift cards or any other form of payment.
Cybercrime Affecting US Businesses
Online threats have become a major problem for businesses in the USA. Activities such as using ransomware to extort money out of organizations or leaking the personal information of customers and employees are now both bigger threats than ever.
In 2019, it was estimated that fraud costs the global economy an incredible $5.127 trillion per year, with nothing to suggest that this figure won’t keep on rising.
Whether involved in ecommerce fraud or credit card fraud, these criminals now have a plethora of tools at their disposal to trick you into handing over your money. This puts both consumers and businesses at risk when conducting transactions online, with fraudsters counting both as fair targets.
Ecommerce retailers now experience an average of 206,000 web attacks per month, with 42% of businesses saying that digital fraud hampers innovation and expansion into new channels. Yet, despite this, only 34% of companies are investing in fraud prevention and mitigation.
This suggests that many businesses would benefit from investing in new counter-fraud systems and technologies which would enable them to make the most of the ever-expanding digital market.
While fraud has become a huge drain on ecommerce businesses and their customers, data leaks can also pose a threat to your employees, customers, and clients. Data leaks have become a serious issue in the USA, with thousands of data breaches taking place each year.
Here we can see just how prevalent data breaches have become; since 2005, the number of breaches has risen by 537.58% to 1001 separate instances in 2020, while the number of records exposed has increased by 132.88% over the same period.
This proves that cybercrime is not only a danger to individual internet users but poses a major threat to large organizations both legally and financially.
Full Global Cyber-Safety Index
This is our full Cyber-Safety Index, looking at data from 94 countries from all over the globe. The countries are ranked from low risk to high risk, according to their overall Cyber-Safety Score.
This score has been formulated by combining each country’s performance on a range of indices relating to cybersecurity, digital fraud, and cybercrime, as well as the breadth of legislation and government strategies for cybersecurity in each location.
So, how safe is internet use in your country?
We wanted to find out which countries are the safest from cybercrime and which are most at risk. To do this, we first collected data from the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI), which ranked every country based on the strength of their cybersecurity measures.
We then took data from a similar ranking, the Global Cybersecurity Index 2020, which also ranked countries based on their respective cybersecurity. We used data from both of these sources as their results differed due to using different criteria to rank each country.
The next data source we used was the Basel AML Index: 9th Edition, which ranks countries based on the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. This illegal activity is most commonly done digitally, so it is a good indicator of how well policed and secure the internet is in each country.
The fourth measure we used was each country’s score from the Cybersecurity Exposure Index (CEI) 2020, which measures how at-risk internet users are in each country. This is a good alternate take on the other cybersecurity indices we’ve used, as it looks at the problem from a different angle, helping to create an overall clearer picture of the cybercrime landscape.
In addition to these various indices, we looked at how strong the anti-cybercrime legislation is in each country. To do this, we used data from the Global Cyber Strategies Index, recording the number of strategies and pieces of legislation that have been enacted in each country, as well as the number of fields such legislation covers.
We assigned each country one point for each piece of legislation, and half a point if the legislation was only in draft form. We then added an extra point for each regulatory category that this covered, thereby including the coverage of legislation as a part of the scoring process.
The scores from all of these factors were converted into a single, equally-weighted score out of ten. This allowed us to rank the countries for their overall internet safety, revealing the best and worst countries for cybersecurity.
We supplemented this study with a snapshot of the most common forms of cybercrime using data from Statista, and used other data from Statista to look at the prevalence of data breaches affecting US businesses.
We also used CSIS data to discuss the 400% increase in attacks on government bodies and other high impact targets between 2009 and 2019 and used statistics from FinancesOnline to discuss the threat of fraud to e-commerce businesses.
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Gergo Varga is the Senior Content Manager / Product Evangelist at SEON. He uses his decade worth of industry knowledge to keep marketing sharp and support what's happening on the frontlines of fraud detection.
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