South Africa in world’s top 5 worst countries for cybercrime

A report by cybersecurity and VPN company Surfshark shows that South Africa had the 5th highest cybercrime victim density in the world in 2022.

The Internet Crime Report forms part of Surshark’s Data Vulnerability Thermometer, which uses open-source US Federal Bureau of Investigation data.

The latest findings showed that 56 out of every 1 million Internet users in South Africa were victims of cybercrime in 2022.

That was an increase of 7.8% from 2021 and pushed South Africa up one spot on the global rankings of countries with the worst cybercrime victim densities.

It now ranks higher than Greece, France, Germany, Mexico, and Spain.

The top four countries with the highest cybercrime victim densities remained the same from 2021.

For the third year in a row, the country topping the ranking was the United Kingdom, with 4,371 victims per 1 million Internet users, a 9% reduction from the previous year.

The second-worst density was observed in the United States, with 1,612 out of every 1 million users hit by cybercrime. That country saw an increase of 8% in victim density compared to 2021.

In distant 3rd and 4th places were Canada and Australia, with respective 156 and 106 cybercrime victims per 1 million users.

The graph below outlines the top 10 countries by cybercrime victim density, according to research by Surfshark.

Surfshark spokeswoman Gabriele Racaityte-Krasauske said that roughly 801,000 people fell victim to cybercrime worldwide in 2022, resulting in losses of $10 billion. 

“Because of how lucrative cybercrime is, there’s no reason to think cybercriminals will stop striking anytime soon,” said Racaityte-Krasauske.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever to be vigilant and build up your cybersecurity defences, which goes for businesses and individuals alike.” 

Surshark said the most common types of cybercrime and the number of victims recorded for each type were as follows:

  1. Phishing — 300,000 victims
  2. Online payment fraud — 63,000 victims
  3. Extortion — 39,000 victims
  4. Tech support scams — 33,000 victims
  5. Investment fraud — 31,000

However, although phishing accounted for the most victims, it only led to an average loss of $173 (R3,173) per victim.

Investment fraud was the most financially-devastating cybercrime in 2022, with total losses estimated to be around $3.3 billion (R60.5 billion), or $108,479 (R2 million) per victim.

Tech support scams placed second with roughly $807 million (R14.8 billion) in losses, while confidence or romance fraud saw victims losing around $736 million (R13.5 billion).

Online payment fraud, credit card fraud, and government impersonation led to losses of $386 million (R7 billion), $264 million (R4.8 billion), and $241 million (R4.4 billion), respectively.

SIM swapping is a noteworthy cybercrime added to the report that South Africans are all-too-familiar with. Surfshark reports there were 2,026 victims in 2022.

That resulted in total losses of $72.7 million (R1.3 billion), or $35,860 (R657,778) per victim.

The graph below shows the financial losses suffered by victims of the most prevalent types of cybercrimes.


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South Africa in world’s top 5 worst countries for cybercrime