South Africa features in top 10 list of countries hardest hit by cybercrime

South Africa has been identified as one of the top 10 countries to have the most cybercrime in the world.

Among the countries hardest hit by cybercrime are the UK, which ranks first, followed by the US, Canada, and Belgium. France, Germany, Mexico, and India also feature on the list. However, South Africa is the only African country to feature.

The research was revealed by cybersecurity company Surfshark, who recently compiled data on the countries that have been hardest hit by cybercrime over the last few years. South Africa came in sixth in the countries found to have the most cybercrime, but was found to have shown the sharpest rise in cybercrime recently compared to any other country.

According to the research by SurfShark, South Africa has the highest year-over-year (YoY) density increase of 277%.

Agneska Sablovskaja, research team lead of Surfshark, said South Africa had shown a shocking rise in cybercrime. Speaking in an interview, she said: “Using our breach detection mechanism, we found that in 2019 the number of breached users in South Africa has increased by a striking 490% compared to 2018.

“This increase might have led to cybercrime growth in 2020 as breached data is often used to commit further crimes such as phishing, government impersonation scams, or identity theft.”

Sablovskaja said the Covid-19 pandemic had also led to an increase in cybercrime, not only in South Africa but the rest of the world too. She said: “During the pandemic, all of our daily lives were transferred online like banking, medical consultations, work, even school. This made cybercriminals more active in employing phishing and other cybercrime techniques that were closely related to the Covid topic.”

While South Africa has shown the sharpest rise in cybercrime, Sablovskaja said the numbers were relatively low compared to other countries which featured in the top 10. She explained: “South Africa ranks on a lower end compared to the list-leading countries that count their victims in thousands. The first-ranking UK had 3 409 victims per one million internet users, almost 67 times more than South Africa, while the US (1 724 victims per one million), which ranks second, had nearly 34 times more victims.

“In the last five years, crime density slowly rose from 11.8 cybercrime victims per one million internet users in 2016 to 14.1 victims per one million in 2019 and 50.8/1m users in 2020. The US, Canada, and the UK were constantly sharing first places in the last five years.”

The latest statistics were compiled using internet crime report data that was aggregated and analysed according to overall financial losses, losses by victim, victim count, age groups, and the number of cybercrime victims per million internet users, said Sablovskaja. According to Surfshark’s study, phishing continued to be the most common cybercrime for the second year in a row.

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