Cybercriminals are just like any other criminals. They can strike anywhere, and for any number of reasons. Across the world, as more and more countries develop the digital infrastructure to help raise their citizens into the 21st century, it is inevitable that the number of reported cybercrimes like identity theft, malware intrusion and phishing will rise as well. As of today, the countries with the highest number of reported cybercrimes tend to have a few things in common (high population, poor regulation, etc.) but they also have some distinguishing characteristics that make each one unique. Here are five countries with the highest cybercrime rates, as well as some insight into how they’ve managed to top the list.
The U.S. tops the list by sheer force of will. According to a recent statistic from a computer security expert at Enigma Software, the U.S. accounts for roughly 23 percent of malicious computer activity. That’s compared to only 8 percent for the second highest country, China. The number is slightly skewed by the fact that America has, by far, the highest percentage of computer users, and that the open infrastructure of our Internet means greater access to more information. The flipside of all this freedom is a higher susceptibility to identity theft or malware intrusion. As LifeLock reports, the U.S. is highly susceptible to data-stealing malware attacks simply because Americans are more likely to share and store data like banking info, tax returns and health records online.
China has seen such rapid growth in the past 20 years that its network infrastructure has made it a breeding ground for hacking and computer espionage. Ironically, this activity isn’t typically affiliated with an underground criminal element, but with the Chinese government, which exerts absolute control over its citizens’ Internet usage while also employing hackers who spy on those both within and outside the country’s borders. China is also ranked number-one in bot scams, which are especially common in developing nations where new users aren’t able to differentiate between an automated phishing scam and an actual human.
The U.S. might have the highest number of cyber attacks, but Russia by far has the most effective cyber criminals. Remember the Target credit card breach that affected millions of shoppers at the end of 2014? The U.S. has charged a Russian man, Evgeniy Bogachev with the attack. He’s believed to be a member of one of Russia’s many tech-savvy crime syndicates. What makes Russia such an effective base for cybercrime? According to recent article in Time magazine, the problem stems from a high number of well-educated computer engineers from neighboring countries like Ukraine and Romania who are simply not able to find work in their field. The underground hacking community in Russia provides a lucrative alternative that is almost completely free of government enforcement.
Most people probably don’t think of Brazil, or South American in general, when they think of cybercrime. However, it’s quickly emerging as the center of cybercriminal activity on the continent. Not surprisingly, Russia is at least partially to blame, as information and resources spread through forums to other nations with little to no regulation. Yahoo! News reports, Brazil has an inordinately high number of spam-based attacks, but hackers were also able to carry out a large scale attack on a popular online payment system to the tune of several billion dollars. Not bad for fourth place.