As mobile technology and bring your own device (BYOD) schemes become more prevalent in the corporate environment, blending personal and professional communication, businesses need to remain on alert, a new report said.

In addition, United States consumers lost $20.7 billion last year after falling prey to cybercrime including attacks, malware and phishing, according to the yearly Norton Cybercrime report. Globally, the rate rose to $110 billion in direct financial loss. The report covered over 13,000 participants across 24 countries between the ages of 18 to 64.

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An estimated 71 million people in the U.S. became cybercrime victims last year. According to the report, 1.5 million people become victims every day across the world — close to 18 people per second. The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent).

Globally, each victim accounted for an average of $197 in financial loss. In the United States, this increased to $290.

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According to the report, an estimated 556 million adults across the world have first-hand experience of cybercrime — more than the entire population of the European Union. This equates to nearly half of all adults online (46 percent), a slight rise from the 2011 figure of 45 percent.

There has been an increase in cybercrime which takes advantage of social networks and mobile technology. When it comes to cybercrime, 21 percent have fallen prey to social or mobile crime. Specifically within social networking, the report found 15 percent of users have had their account infiltrated, and 1 in 10 have been victims of fake links or scams.

In an interesting note, 75 percent of participants believed cybercriminals were gearing more toward social networks, but less than half (44 percent) used security software to help protect them against these kinds of attacks. In addition, only half (49 percent) used privacy settings effectively to control the information they share.

“Cybercriminals are changing their tactics to target fast-growing mobile platforms and social networks where consumers are less aware of security risks,” said Norton Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt. “This mirrors what we saw in this year’s Symantec Internet Security Threat Report which reported nearly twice the mobile vulnerabilities in 2011 from the year before.”

Although most Internet users take basic steps to protect themselves, 40 percent do not use complex passwords, and over a third don’t worry about typing sensitive information into an unsecure site. When accessing email, 44 percent use unsecure, public Wi-Fi — and 40 percent do not recognize how malware has evolved to subtly compromise a system, placing personal and corporate information at risk. In addition, 55 percent of participants are unsure if their systems are currently clean.

When using public connections, 67 percent access email, 63 percent use social networking and 24 percent access their bank account, according to the report.

The study found email accounts are often a target for cybercriminals to try and access personal and corporate information. The study said 27 percent of adults received notification to change their email due to a compromised account — and when 42 percent store work-related correspondence and documents on these accounts, businesses need to be aware that this could be a security risk.

“Personal email accounts often contain the keys to your online kingdom,” said Adam Palmer, Norton lead cybersecurity advisor. “Not only can criminals gain access to everything in your inbox, they can also reset your passwords for any other online site you may use by clicking the ‘forgot your password’ link, intercepting those emails and effectively locking you out of your own accounts.”

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