For a long time, the majority of Spaniards who make payments over the Internet (61%), those who have subscriptions to online payment services are close to being it (45%), while those who receive courses or training through the Internet have also grown notably with the pandemic (26%). But, without the appropriate measures, a greater use of the networks can also imply a greater risk of hacking: just over a quarter of Spaniards (28%) admit to having suffered some “serious cybersecurity incident” in the first half of 2021 .
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In total, more than half of the Spanish population (55.3%) that makes use of digital services indicates having suffered some type of security mishap in the same period, according to the semi-annual report of Watch cyber, prepared by the National Observatory of Technology and Society (Ontsi). The study is the result of user surveys complemented with the use of software that analyzes their devices in search of viruses or cybersecurity threats.
The incidents most cited by users for having been victims of them this semester, in addition to the ubiquitous spam, are viruses or other types of malware, loss of personal information or identity theft.
“It is essential that users are increasingly trained in cybersecurity to be able to identify security incidents early,” recalls the report. This is because on a large number of occasions the user does not know that their device is at risk.
For example, only 13.9% of users recognize that their device has been infected by viruses or other malicious programs. But when they analyzed their computers with Pinkerton, the threat tracking software provided by ONTSI, the actual figure turned out to be more than four times higher, with 59.1% having been compromised. 75% of these infections were “highly” dangerous because they “allow, potentially, remote access by an attacker to the victim system; suppose a financial loss for the user or facilitate the capture of confidential or sensitive information”, reflects the organism.
In the case of mobile devices, the situation is not so extreme. Only 6.57% of those who declared that their devices were not infected (95% of those interviewed) were wrong. In total, only 7% of mobile phones were found to be infected, although only the devices were analyzed. From the ONTSI they point out that the difference of more than 50 points with respect to desktop computers is due to “successive improvements” in the cybersecurity of this operating system and the fact that many permissions are disabled by default in the latest versions. Of course, 66% of the malware detected was of “high” danger.
Cash frauds of less than 100 euros
The most likely result of these cybersecurity threats is online fraud. 65% of those surveyed claim to have been a victim of this type of action.
A large part of them are based on hooks such as invitations to visit suspicious pages or receiving emails that request user codes. However, 14% of users acknowledge that they have accessed false web pages of banks, businesses or administrations pushed by cybercriminals; 9% admit that they have received social engineering attacks to obtain personal or private information; and 6.6% who have been extorted with personal and intimate information.
Most of these online scams result in losses of $ 100 or less. “These amounts extrapolated to a large number of victims can be very large, and also more effective from the point of view of collection,” reflects the agency. However, 22% of these scams and extortions reach up to 400 euros, 9% up to 1,000 euros and 5% to 5,000. Telephone scams, which are largely based on a previous online security breach from which they obtain the victim’s personal data, move in similar numbers.
Half of users say security tools cannot be allowed
Asked why they did not take cybersecurity measures to try to reduce the risk of incidents, 50% of those surveyed answered that it is due to lack of financial resources to obtain these tools. Another 48.5% say it is because they do not have the necessary knowledge.
Ontsi recalls that most operating systems include native security tools at no extra cost, prepared to deal with most threats. “Options such as VirusTotal, for example, apply antivirus engines on user data, free of charge,” recalls the agency.
What the majority agree on is asking public administrations for a greater commitment to cybersecurity. “The truth is that there are informative portals of a very diverse type aimed at citizens, which are being widely disseminated, but perhaps, even so, they do not reach all citizens equally,” says the report.
Regardless, confidence in overall security continues to grow. More than 85% of citizens affirm that the Internet offers them a lot or at least enough confidence.