Over the past year, the internet's importance to our daily lives has become more apparent than ever. The pandemic brought on by COVID-19 has forced millions of people into their homes, meaning we've had to rely on the internet for everything from work and school to doctor appointments and socializing.
However, while we can all be thankful for this connectivity, there is another side to the story: cybercrime.
Putting so much of our information out on the web means there is a vast amount of data out there for people to steal.
Cybercrime is a growing problem that seems to keep getting worse each year, and 2021 is no different.
To give you an idea of just how serious the situation is and why we need to take decisive action as soon as possible, here are 24 alarming cybercrime statistics from 2021.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is defined as any crime that is committed with the use of a computer. This could mean an email scam in which a "Nigerian prince" asks you to wire him some money so that he can process his US visa. Still, it could also be a direct attack against a company's data to steal account information and credit card numbers.
Cybercrime can also be the sale of illegal materials over the internet, such as drugs or child pornography, as well as abuse, such as when pedophiles try to talk to kids, or when people make fun of each other and cause one another harm, also known as cyberbullying.
An Underappreciated Threat
However, despite the genuine threat cybercrime poses, not enough people take it seriously. It's quite common to find people using devices that aren't locked, using exceptionally common passwords to secure their accounts, or opening suspicious mail that can give cybercriminals far too much access to their personal information.
In case you're one of these people who is not taking cybercrime seriously enough, here are 24 alarming statistics that will wake you up to the severity of this threat.
1. 30,000 websites are hacked every day
Considering there are around 200 million websites currently active, this might not seem like an alarming number. Yet, if we consider there are 365 days in a year, this means that every website out there will be hacked at some point in the next 20 years.
Of course, not all websites are equally as valuable for hackers. The vast majority of sites currently on the web are small, personal websites such as blogs. The 30,000 sites being attacked each day hold valuable information and are attacked far more often. This should serve as a stark reminder there is always someone out there trying to get at our data.
2. There is a cyber-attack once every 39 seconds
According to a study from the University of Maryland, a typical computer is attacked in one way or another every 39 seconds. This could come in the form of a direct hacking attempt, a phishing attempt, or some other version of spam meant to infect your computer with harmful software, known as malware.
To do this study, researchers lowered the defenses on a series of computers and monitored how often they were attacked. Thankfully, if you're using an anti-virus program and some common sense, you should be able to avoid most of these attacks and stay safe. Still, it's unnerving to know just how many attacks are happening at any given moment.
3. 2020 Was a Record Year for DDOS Attacks
Short for Distributed Denial of Service attacks, this type of hacking overwhelms a website to crash it so that cybercriminals can gain access to the valuable information they want.
2020 was an interesting year because the Coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to work/learn from home. So much more of our already-digital lives went online, and, sadly, this just sweetened the potential prize for hackers. In the first half of the year, more than 4 million attacks were recorded around the country. This record number shows that hackers are not deterred by the global suffering brought on by the pandemic. In fact, it may have made them even more motivated.
4. 78 percent of the US organizations have experienced a cyber attack in the past year
Although hackers will attack pretty much anyone, they often try to focus on companies and other organizations with people's financial or personal information on file. Somewhat surprisingly, hackers are increasingly going after medium- and small-sized companies because although large companies have more data, they use their considerable resources to put up more robust defenses against cybercriminals. Smaller companies can't do this and are therefore more vulnerable.
5. 93 Percent of organizations in India experienced a hack in the past year
If you thought the 78 percent number from the US was bad, consider India's situation. Ninety-three percent of Indian organizations experienced some sort of hack in the past year. India is quickly becoming a global hub for the tech industry, and hackers are catching onto this and targeting these organizations.
If nothing else, this shows that our response to cybercrime needs to be collaborative. Hackers are not concerned with where a website or company is based. Defenses need to in place, and strategies need to be developed with this information in mind.
6. 23 percent of Americans have either had their credit card or financial information stolen by hackers or know someone who has
This is one of those things you don't think can happen to you until it does. It will be totally unexpected. One day you'll look into your bank account and see a few transactions for things you didn't do.
In most cases, when this happens, you can make a claim with your bank or credit card company and get the money back, but this won't save you from the hassle of having to cancel your card, wait for a new one, and then update all your accounts. Plus, you may never get the peace of mind back that you lose when someone gets hold of your data.
7. 30 percent of all US consumers were affected by data breaches in 2020
We will give our personal information to pretty much anyone, especially if they agree to ship us some new clothes or a fancy new gadget. In general, this isn't a bad thing. Companies who take credit card information or other sensitive data usually take great pride in their efforts to keep it safe, but no one can be truly immune from cybercriminals. This translates to about a one in three chance of being affected by a data breach at a company you do business with.
8. The number of data breaches is growing each year
There's no reason to think this threat will go away if we just 'wait it out.' As more and more of the world goes online, there is more valuable information than ever, meaning cybercriminals have considerable incentive to try and hack into a company's system and steal your data along with that of hundreds if not thousands of others.
9. Mobile malware variation has increased by 54 percent
This statistic reminds us how hackers and other cybercriminals are continually improving the techniques they use to attack us and steal our information. Malware is a blanket term for the many different types of infected software hackers try to get you to install by phishing you. The situation is getting more complicated, especially for mobile devices.
Once considered safe from hackers, our dependence on our smartphones has hackers creating lots of new software designed to get to our data. This new malware is increasingly varied, meaning it's difficult to identify and block, which means we need to be constantly vigilant.
As you can see, the threat posed by cybercrime is immense. This should be enough to convince you to take cybercrime seriously and put up the necessary defenses, but in case it's not, consider these stats about the cost of cybercrime to our lives:
10. The economic cost of cybercrime in the United States is between $57 billion and $109 billion
This cost comes from things such as: paying back funds lost to fraud, compensating those who have had their identity stolen, giving or losing money to false fronts, paying ransoms to have viruses removed, and much more.
This is not something that happens every once in a while that doesn't cause much harm. Instead, as mentioned above, it's a constant threat that can have severe consequences, such as costing the US economy close to $100 billion a year.
California alone loses more than half a billion dollars to cybercrime, in part because of the heavy presence of the tech industry in that state.
11. The cost of cybercrime to the global economy is 10.4 trillion
It's important to remember this is not just a problem in the United States. Cybercrime is a huge problem worldwide, with some countries experiencing even more problems than others. A good example is Indonesia, where you have a 76 percent chance of being affected by a cyberattack. These attacks come with a price tag, and in total, they cost the global economy more than $10 trillion.
12. We lose $1.48 billion to phishing
Phishing is the tactic scammers use of trying to get you to be the one to let them into whatever system they are trying to hack or to outright steal from you. They usually use email, but they can also call or text you, and they are relying on you to click the link in the email that will trigger a download onto your computer.
They might make emails look like they're from someone you know, or a stranger (such as a Nigerian prince), asking for money to help them out of a sticky situation. Always verify these before sending anyone anything, especially money or your credit card information.
It seems to think people would fall for this, but we lose 1.48 billion a year to phishing attacks. This suggests many email users aren't aware of the risks and/or that hackers are always finding new ways to trick us.
13. The average ransomware payment is now more than $111,000
Ransomware is a type of software that "kidnaps" your computer, threatening to delete or release sensitive files unless you pay them money. On the surface, this might seem like an ineffective tactic, but it works far more often than you might think, and each year, hackers become greedier and greedier.
Currently, the average ransomware payment is more than $110,000. Of course, you really shouldn't pay these people, but many still do, and the cost of giving in is extravagant.
14. The Cybersecurity market generates more than $40 billion in yearly revenue
If you work for a company specializing in cybersecurity or have qualifications in this field, this is terrific news. It tells us that companies and other organizations have to spend more and more money protecting themselves due to the rising threat of cybercrime.
This is a natural ramification of so much of our lives going online. We've digitized so much that the risks are greater than ever. So while so much investment in this sector helps contribute to economic growth, it's also a reminder that the threats we face are simply not going away.
15. It costs a business $3.6 million to deal with the impacts of a phishing attack
If you own a business or work for one that doesn't have a strong defense constructed against cybercrime, this statistic should be a call to action. Getting hit by a hacker is not fun. If they steal your customers' data, you will have to pay to find out the problem, fix it and then update your system to ensure it doesn't happen again. You will need to compensate those involved and rebuild your image and your relationship with customers. All of this takes time and money, about $3.6 million on average.
This number is going up each year. Just a few years back, it was around $1.6 million. This increase is because there is so much more data at stake. The ramifications of a breach are much more severe, and therefore it costs more money than ever to recover.
16. 60 percent of small companies that suffer a cyber attack go out of business
If you are owning a business and think spending $1.6 million to clean up after a cyberattack would ruin you, you're not alone. Almost two-thirds of the companies that fall victim to a hack or data breach wind up having to close down. This is likely due to a combination of not managing the expense and the loss of trust that comes when you lose your customers' sensitive data.
17. Americans have lost more than $1 billion to online dating scams over the past three years
Somewhat surprisingly, one of the most notable instances of cybercrime in the United States is online dating scams. In these instances, cybercriminals make fake accounts and then seek out people on various platforms. They flatter and court them, and then at some point, they usually ask them for some money to help them with a problem. Head over heels, they agree, but then after they send the money and ask to meet, they never hear from the person again.
Americans lose more than a billion dollars a year to these types of scams.
Every once in a while, authorities can catch up to these criminals and prosecute them. One rather stunning story to come out of Ohio found that one person was able to get a total of $34 million while scamming people on online dating apps and platforms.
This is not only scary; it's also heartbreaking.
Cybercrime is both prevalent and damaging. But what causes it? Are hackers that good at finding their way into these well-defended systems? In some cases, yes, but in most cases, they get hold of information or other valuable data because we let them in!
Here are some stats to show you how cybercrime happens:
18. 95 percent of all data breaches are caused by human error
While we would like to think that data breaches and other hacks are caused exclusively by malicious hackers and cybercriminals, the reality is that we do have a lot more control than we think. This stat, provided by Cybint, reminds us that good cybersecurity practices can make all the difference in keeping data safe. Strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and learning to spot bad emails are all little things we can do to stay cyber-safe. Yet, so many people aren't trained in these practices or don't take them seriously, putting both people and data at risk.
19. 94 percent of all malware is delivered by email
Phishing attempts sent to your email and your phone via text message are the most common way for you to get hacked. It might be a message that looks like it's coming from your bank or your lawyer, but sometimes all you need to do is click on it, and your system has been compromised. Always double check sender information, and when in doubt, don't click, especially since the vast majority – 94 percent – of all malicious software will come to you via email.
20. 39 percent of all global data breaches caused by malware were ransomware
Another reason why cybercrime has such a massive impact on our economy is the use of ransomware. This is a type of malware that essentially takes your system hostage, threatening to delete or expose your data if you do not pay a fee to the one who has 'kidnapped' your information.
It's a no-win situation because if you pay, you're giving up not only money but your bank information, plus you still might not get your data back. If you don't pay, you're going to get punished. Most companies don't pay ransoms, which is why so many of the data breaches that occur are caused by this type of malware.
21. Spam and phishing are responsible for 66 percent of all the ransomware that gets stolen
This is a bit of a recurring theme. Phishing is the primary means hackers use to get you to download ransomware onto your computer. They also might use pop-up ads as another way to get you to click on something and download their program. They're hoping you click on it while using a computer with access to a more extensive network of data, but if not, they'll take yours too.
22. 56 percent of cybercrime committed against companies is brought on by either current or former employees
For business owners, you should only have to hear this stat once to make training your staff to defend against cybercrime a priority. This doesn't mean your employees want to get you and steal your money. Instead, they simply don't know how to spot a phishing attempt or what to do if they suspect they've been targeted. So when it happens, they make a mistake that costs the company big time. Train first, and you'll be thankful later.
Many other types of cybercrime do not involve data breaches, hacks, and identity information. Some of these additional crimes don't even deal with money. Instead, they are examples of what sick individuals can do with an internet connection.
Children are particularly susceptible because they lack awareness of how to spot a threat and what to do when once occurs. Here are two sobering stats about the danger children are in and why it's essential to do everything we can to keep them safe.
23. One in five teenagers who use the internet have received an unwanted sexual solicitation
This stat is pretty terrifying when you think about it. Kids are online on a near-constant basis, mainly on social media and other websites that allow people to communicate with one another. An innocent person expressing an interest in the same things as them is often welcomed. This friendliness can disappear when one side asks to meet or for photos, putting your child in a compromising position.
Speak to your kids about talking online with people they don't know to develop good online street smarts and stay safe while browsing the web.
24. The FBI estimates there are between 500,000 and 750,000 sexual predators active on the internet per day
Lastly, we should never underestimate the depth of the threat we face online. These sexual predators tracked by the FBI target both children and adults. Still, if you develop good habits online and don't talk to strangers you've never met in person, you can usually avoid these skeevy individuals and stay completely safe while online. However, it's good to remember they're out there, so you are reminded to remain vigilant and prepared.
Cybercrime: Not a Laughing Matter
The threats cybercrime poses to our financial security and our safety are at times overwhelming. It can feel as though there is no escaping, but while this is a very serious matter, taking the proper steps to defend yourself can go a long way.
Ensure all your accounts are protected with a unique password, use anti-virus software, and stay out of your spam folder. Don't open anything you find in there unless you're 100 percent positive it's safe. Double-check URLs and email addresses and always follow the golden rule: don't click when in doubt.
If you follow these steps and work to educate yourself about how to protect against the threats we face online, you will avoid being a cybercrime statistic and will be able to browse the web in peace.