Gen data reveals 12% of Kiwis are victims of cybercrime

Recent data from Gen’s Norton Cyber Security Insights Report reveals that 12 percent of New Zealanders have experienced cybercrime within the past year.

These cybercrimes, ranging from data breaches to unauthorised access to online accounts and identity theft, have not only financial ramifications but also significant impacts on victims’ mental health. A noteworthy 38 percent of identity theft victims reported negative effects on their mental well-being.

Gen has launched a new campaign called Scam Artists, aimed at highlighting the emotional toll of cybercrime through artwork. This endeavour, created in collaboration with award-winning British psychologist Lee Chambers, showcases the emotional journey of cybercrime victims through creative visuals generated from brainwave data.

The artwork aims to demonstrate the profound psychological consequences experienced from the onset of a cyberattack to the eventual recovery facilitated by effective cyber protection.

The campaign’s approach involved equipping three victims of scams and identity theft with Electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to monitor their brain reactions during their recall of the cybercrime incidents. The sessions were divided into stages: before, during and after the incidents, with the final stage including the introduction of cyber protection measures. The brainwave data collected was then translated into visual art, portraying the varied emotional states throughout the experience.

One such artwork depicted the emotional responses of Lynn Beattie, an identity theft victim.

The visualisation showed her state of relaxation before the incident, a phase of anxious thinking and stress during the recall of the event, and a return to a state of relaxation and psychological wellbeing when solutions for cyber safety were introduced.

Commenting on the findings, Lee Chambers stated, “Experiencing a cyberattack is traumatic and will cause a negative emotional response.

When the victims were asked to recall their experiences of cybercrime, the resulting artwork showed an eruption of brain activity that is often associated with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty – feelings that can be long-lasting and have a significant life impact.” Chambers further emphasised the role of optimism bias, where individuals tend to underestimate their risk, contributing to inadequate precautionary measures against cyber threats.

The campaign also includes new research highlighting public perceptions of cyber threats and cyber protection. The study found that 69 percent of Americans believe they could be vulnerable to cybercrime, with anger (56 percent) and stress (51 percent) being the predominant emotions experienced by victims.

However, only 52 percent of the respondents have implemented some form of cybersecurity measure. Notably, 63 percent acknowledged that understanding optimism bias could make them more likely to adopt cybersecurity measures.

Leena Elias, Chief Product Officer at Gen, commented: “Cyberthreats today are bigger, more widespread, and more sophisticated than ever before, and they are here to stay. Last year, Gen blocked more than 14 billion attacks.”

“We’re focused on helping people to feel confident engaging with the digital world with solutions that help protect against evolving and emerging threats. Our mission is to provide peace of mind.”

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