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Been hacked? We'd like to hear from you

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

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Almost a third of Australians were impacted by cybercrime in recent years, the personal and emotional cost of which is largely unknown … but one Edith Cowan University (ECU) Honours student is aiming to find out.

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours student Alexa Palassis' study is exploring the impact of cybercrime. She wants to hear from individuals and small businesses who have discovered their digital identities have been compromised (eg social media or bank accounts), particularly where the hacking was not a direct result of their own actions.

Millennials most common victim, but baby boomers lose the most

Alexa said the target of a cyberattack can vary depending on the motivation of the hacker, however no-one is immune from becoming a victim.

"Millennials are, funnily enough, the most common victims of hacking, with 60 per cent experiencing a cybercrime in the past 12 months.

"However it’s baby boomers (ages 54-72) that experience the highest loss in terms of money," Alexa said.

According to Scamwatch, Australians lost $3,128,908 to hacking in 2018.

Motivations are varied but consequences distressing for all

Victims' experiences of cybercrime differ vastly, but all have negative consequences for the business or person involved.

"Cybercrime can affect businesses, retailers and individuals resulting in data breaches, reputational damage, business disruption, information loss, revenue loss, productivity loss and loss of personal history and photos, among other consequences," Alexa said.

"Victims often don't perceive themselves as victims and don't know how or where to gain assistance, so the impact of their experience is somewhat unexplored.

"I'm aiming to find out more about the personal impact to individuals and small business. Preliminary research suggests people affected report feelings of violation, shock, helplessness, anger and guilt, and in some cases, ongoing psychological impact – I'd like to hear more about that," Alexa said.

The research results will be useful to support services that provide assistance and advice to victims of hacking.

To participate in the ECU study, contact Alexa Palassis via email at apalassi@our.ecu.edu.au.

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