How Cybercrime Relates to Online Behavior [Infographic]

How Cybercrime Relates to Online Behavior

According to estimates published by McAfee, the global cost of cybercrime could increase to as much as $400 billion per year. Cybercriminals increasingly use more sophisticated attacks such as zero-day exploits, or a flaw that exposes vulnerabilities in software or hardware, to execute data breaches. In 2014, 47 percent of Americans’ personal information was stolen due to a hacking incident. Each day 160,000 Facebook accounts and more than 600,000 user logins are compromised. The largest online data breach involved 130 million user accounts. These statistics show that cybercrime is a problem for both individuals and organizations alike.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Boston University’s Master of Criminal Justice program.

Cybercrime and Online Behavior

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Common Types of Cybercrime Reported to the FBI

Surprisingly, romance-style cybercrimes are quite common with scammers targeting people who visit dating sites. These scammers create fake online profiles that falsely present trustworthy identities, then use deceptive strategies to swindle money from their unsuspecting victims. Romance scammers steal $81 million from victims annually with each complainant losing an average of $12,000, according to FBI reports. This type of cybercrime is highly lucrative because it involves exploiting the misplaced trust that victims place in their supposedly new love interests.

Auto fraud is another common type of online crime. Cybercriminals convince their targets to pay for vehicles that do not exist. Criminals take $51 million annually with each victim losing an average of $3,600.

Cybercriminals have permeated the real estate industry where they convince buyers to pay for non-existent properties. Cybercriminals take approximately $18 million per year from real estate rental scams with victims losing an average of $1,800. Other cybercrime tactics include intimidation and extortion, while impersonating government officials, with criminals collecting $6 million per year, an average of $700 from each victim. Considering unreported cybercrime incidents, it is possible these figures could be substantially higher.

Cybercrime Demographics

Internet usage trends based on gender:

• Worldwide, 41 percent of men have internet connectivity compared to 37 percent of women.
• Across developed countries, 80 percent of men have internet access compared to 74 percent of women.
• In developing countries, internet connectivity for men and women stands at 33 percent and 29 percent respectively.
• Globally, 44 percent of men are likely to go online several times a day compared to 39 percent of women.
• On the social media front, women are slightly more active with 76 percent visiting social networking sites compared to 72 percent of men.

The propensity of men to spend more time online has several advantages and disadvantages. For instance, men are more likely to know about new web-based terms such as phishing and RSS feeds. They are also more likely to have heard or researched emerging tech-related issues. Men have a higher tendency of clicking on high-risk links. Women are more concerned about cybercrime when using the internet. Male web users are more likely than their female counterparts to change their passwords on a regular basis. Web security experts say doing so makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to access confidential information. When reported cybercrimes are broken down by gender, men filed 140,229 complaints, which translates to 52.05 percent of all reported incidents. Women filed 129,163 or 47.95 percent of all complaints received by the FBI.

Cybercrime Reported by Age

Web users aged 40-59 years account for 40.95 percent of cybercrime complaints received by the FBI. They are closely followed by 20- to 39-year-olds (millennials) who account for 38.97 percent of cybercrime complaints. Seniors 60 years and older make up only 16.57 percent of cybercrimes reported. The rate of cybercrimes reported among web users 20 years and younger is extremely low at 3.51 percent because most are subject to parental oversight when using the internet. Sites that allow underage visitors are subject to strict data privacy regulations. In other words, such sites must aggressively protect minors from cybercriminals as well as prevent them from accessing inappropriate content.

Cybercrime Stats by Location

The United States accounts for 91.54 percent of all cybercrime incidences reported worldwide.

Cybercrime Incidence Rates around the World

• Canada 1.51%
• U.K. 0.78%
• India 0.78%
• Australia 0.53%
• France 0.33%
• Russia .07%
• Hong Kong .07%

Ukraine, Chile, Bulgaria, and Venezuela have the lowest rate cybercrime complaints at 0.003 percent each. Take note these are the rates of cybercrime incidents reported, not those committed.

Taming Cybercrime

According to Boston University’s Master of Criminal Justice Professor Kyung-shick Choi, criminal justice authorities use several strategies to tame cybercriminal behavior. One of the most effective ways is leveraging the power of predictive analytics to determine future incidents based on past cybercrime data. This is in addition to using demographic data to determine potential attacks. These strategies work because research has shown that online lifestyles and digital-capable guardianship influence cybercrime outcomes significantly. For instance, men are prone to risky online behavior such as downloading free web content. At the same time, criminal justice officials regularly participate in programs aimed at educating web users on protecting their virtual identities. This includes changing passwords frequently, installing protective software, and never using the same password across multiple sites.


Cybercrime is a global problem that affects both individuals and organizations alike. Americans may be targeted by cybercriminals pretending to be potential love interests, government officials, or property sellers. To avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime, criminal justice officials recommend changing passwords regularly, installing protective software, and being alert when on the web.

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