The human cost of getting ‘hacked’

Stock image.
Stock image.

A PERTH university researcher is aiming to document the human and personal cost getting “hacked”.

Almost a third of Australians have been impacted by cybercrime in recent years.

Bachelor of Science (Psychology) Honours student Alexa Palassis wants to hear from individuals and small businesses who have discovered their digital identities (such as social media accounts) have been compromised.

Ms Palassis said the target of a cyberattack can vary depending on the motivation of the hacker.

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

“However it’s baby boomers that experience the highest loss in terms of money.”

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

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

Alexa Palassis.

“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,” Ms Palassis 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.”

The research results will be used for 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.