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Tips to avoid becoming victim of cybercrime

September 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
According to a just-released cybercrime report, more than two-thirds of adults have become a victim of computer viruses, malware, "phishing" or other online scams. The report also shows that the cost of cybercrime exceeds that of the black market drug trade.

"Sixty-nine percent -- that's nearly 7 out of 10 of us globally -- have already been a victim of cybercrime in our lifetime. That's a shocking amount of people," said Helen Malani, a cybercrime education expert at Symantec. Symantec makes Norton antivirus software.

Malani has just completed one of the most extensive cybercrime reports ever done.

The report finds that not only have nearly 70 percent of computer users worldwide been victimized, but also the cost is incredible.

"It amounts to $388 billion, which is actually larger than the cocaine, marijuana and heroin industry," said Malani.

Kevin Haley is Norton's security expert. He displayed how easy it is for a cybercriminal to take control of your computer.

Haley uses an "attacker" software program criminals purchase from the cybercrime underground. It starts with a seemingly harmless email from a fellow worker.

"Grab a screenshot. I can use the webcam to take a picture. I can capture everything that they type on their computer," said Haley.

And sure enough Haley took control of the webcam on the friendly computer and took my picture without me knowing it, and the only evidence is a tiny blinking blue light.

Another cyber threat is what looks like something that could protect you: an offer to sell you antivirus software.

"It looks like I am getting my machine scanned by antivirus. And actually this is all a little bit of animation. There is no malware on my machine, but this program is trying to convince me there is," said Haley.

"It's really trying to frighten you so that you're not really thinking straight, and that you're willing to give them money to kind of solve this problem for you," said Haley.

If you do get a malware program on your computer, you'll want to get rid of it right away. You can do that with a good antivirus software program. You can download a free antivirus tool from the Internet. Symantec has one, for example.

Another thing: Make sure you use strong passwords.

Remember: Every second there are 14 victims of cybercrime, and you don't want to become one of them.

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