Cybercrime: rarer and less costly than we’re told

Despite self-interested claims from companies and governments, identity theft is extremely rare and the costs of cybercrime are significantly lower than claimed, new polling by Essential Research shows.

Crikey has previously examined overhyped reports from computer security companies aimed at generating additional sales for their products, hyping the Australian government has happily joined in. According to Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, identity fraud is one of Australia’s fastest growing crimes and one in four Australians had been a victim or had known someone who had been a victim of identity theft.

The key to overhyping cybercrime is to conflate a variety of different crimes under one broad description. But now Essential has disentangled commonly-conflated crimes and asked people to estimate how much they actually cost. And the evidence comprehensively debunks the claims made about cybercrime.

According to Essential, just 1% of Australians report ever being the victim of identity theft. If identity theft is Australia’s fastest growing crime as Nicola Roxon, the AFP and many media reports insists, then it must have been coming off a positively microscopic base.

Moreover, 43% of identity theft victims said they suffered no financial loss from the incident. Just over a third? — ?36% — ?said their loss was between $100 and $500; another 14% said it was between $500-1000. In fact, identity theft was the least expensive crime, averaging a cost of $230, well below the overall average cost of $330.

So, identity theft that actually costs people money has happened to 0.57% of Australians — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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