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Cybercrime is rife in developed countries and on the rise, says new study

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People living in highly developed countries are more susceptible to cybercrime, according to new research from a leading VPN provider.

NordVPN found that 36% of countries are at high or very high risk for cybercrime, while Northern Europe is the most dangerous place in the world to be online.

This is because Northern Europe has the highest penetration of the internet, smartphones and Instagram, and because it has the highest average monthly wages and the highest usage of e-commerce.

NordVPN's Cyber Risk Index claims that factors like high-income economy, advanced technological infrastructure, urbanisation and digitalisation increase the prevalence of cybercrime.

Compiled in partnership with Statistica, the Index analysed and ranked 50 countries (70% of the world’s population) based on their risk of cybercrime.

The firm claims that cybercrime increases with wages and time spent online, but research suggests that Western Europe has a moderate cyber risk store, as these countries spend less time online.

High levels of cybercrime in North America

North America is also seeing high levels of cybercrime, like Northern Europe, with NordVPN attributing this to the fact that both regions have high urbanization levels, similar levels of internet and social network penetration, and the highest wages in the world.

The study found that nine out of 10 people are using the internet, 80% are buying things online, and seven out of 10 are using Facebook in Northern Europe and North America, which NordVPN says leads to increased exposure to cyber threats.

The countries most at risk of cybercrime are Iceland, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, the U.S., Singapore, Ireland, New Zealand, Denmark and the U.K. Meanwhile, the nations at lower risk are Ukraine, Iran, the Philippines, Thailand, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria and India. 

“Cybercriminals don’t look for victims, they look for opportunities — much like pickpockets in crowded places,” said Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN. 

“Spend enough time in a packed bus, and a pickpocket will ‘accidentally’ bump into you. Same story online. Your cyber risk increases with every extra hour online.”