Surge in cybercrime in Spain: over 350,000 victims in 2023

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In 2023, cybercrime in Spain victimised over 350,000 individuals, marking a nearly 19% increase from the previous year. This alarming rise is highlighted in a recent report on cybercrime published by the Ministry of the Interior.

The total number of recorded cybercrimes surged from 374,737 in 2022 to 472,125 in 2023. The overwhelming majority of these incidents, 90.5%, involved fraud and online scams.

Predominance of fraud and scams

Internet fraud and scams, such as phishing attacks and CEO fraud, constitute the bulk of cybercrimes. Phishing involves tricking victims into entering personal information on fake websites that mimic legitimate ones, often leading to the theft of sensitive data. CEO fraud sees criminals impersonating company executives to deceive employees into transferring large sums to fraudulent accounts. Other types of cybercrimes, such as forgery, account for only 3.2% of the total.

Impact on police efficiency

The surge in cybercrime has strained police resources, impacting their efficiency. In 2023, only 13.5% of cybercrime cases were solved, down from 14.6% in 2022. Despite this decrease in resolution rates, the number of arrests and investigations rose from 15,097 in 2022 to 17,173 in 2023.

Victims and perpetrators

The report indicates that individuals aged between 26-40 and 50-65 are most frequently targeted by cybercriminals. Notably, 96.3% of older victims (65 years and older) are subject to fraud and scams. Sexual cybercrimes predominantly affect minors, with 86.7% of victims under the age of 18.

Profile of cybercriminals

The typical cybercriminal profile is predominantly male (72.5%) and aged between 18 and 40. While men are more often involved in sexual crimes and data interference, women are more frequently implicated in computer-related forgery and honour-related offences. The majority of perpetrators are Spanish nationals (76.7%), followed by Moroccans (3.1%), Colombians (2.0%), and Romanians (1.9%).

Prioritising cybersecurity

The Ministry of the Interior underscores the importance of cybersecurity as a critical aspect of public safety. Cybercrime is a pervasive and persistent threat, increasingly affecting citizens, businesses, and institutions. The report emphasises the need for enhanced efforts to combat this form of crime and bolster cyber defences. Individuals and organisations are urged to remain vigilant and adopt preventive measures to protect against this growing menace.

Tips to prevent falling victim to cybercrime

  1. Be vigilant: Watch out for suspicious emails, messages, and calls. Avoid sharing personal information unsolicitedly and be cautious of links from unknown senders.
  2. Use strong passwords: Create unique passwords for all your accounts and consider using a password manager.
  3. Keep software up to date: Ensure your operating systems, antivirus software, and other programs are current.
  4. Secure your Wi-Fi network: Use a strong password for your router and enable WPA3 encryption.
  5. Exercise caution with public Wi-Fi: Avoid sensitive transactions, like online banking, on public networks.
  6. Verify URLs: Check URLs before clicking on links to ensure they are legitimate.
  7. Regularly back up important files: This can help mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks.
  8. Be sceptical: If something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
  9. Educate yourself on phishing: Always be cautious with attachments or links in emails. Hover over links to preview the URL before clicking.
  10. Report suspicious activities: Notify the appropriate authorities or your IT department of any dubious activities.

By adopting these measures, individuals and organisations can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cybercrime and contribute to a safer online environment.

Also read: Interpol launch new campaign on Cyber Crime called #YouMayBeNext

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