SAN FRANCISCO: Even though consumers typically express confidence about their device security arrangements, that still didn’t prevent cyber-criminals from stealing $172bn from 978m people last year.

That is according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report by security firm Symantec, the maker of Norton antivirus software, which conducted a survey of more than 21,500 adults across 20 markets.

Looking specifically at the situation in the US, the survey revealed that 143m Americans were the victims of cybercrime last year – or more than half the US adult online population.

Losses totalled $19.4bn in the US with each victim forced to spend an average of nearly 20 hours dealing with the aftermath. Meanwhile, 17m UK consumers lost £4.6bn with the average victim having to spend 14.8 hours dealing with the problem.

“Consumers’ actions revealed a dangerous disconnect: Despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, too many people appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves,” said Fran Rosch, EVP of Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit.

“This disconnect highlights the need for consumer digital safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime,” he added.

His warning came after the survey found that nearly a quarter of victims in the US used the same online password across all accounts and 60% committed the security howler of sharing their passwords for at least one device or account with others.

By comparison, only 17% of non-cybercrime victims reused passwords and 37% shared their passwords with others.

In addition, 41% of victims wrote down their passwords on a piece of paper and were almost twice as likely as non-victims to save their password to a file on their computer or smartphone than non-victims.

And almost half (46%) of US cybercrime victims owned a smart device for streaming content, compared to about one quarter of non-victims. They were also three times as likely to own a connected home device.

Sourced from Symantec, ITProPortal; additional content by WARC staff