A new McAfee-sponsored report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimates that cybercrime is costing the global economy around $445 billion (£265 bn) per annum. That, it is suggested, is a figure that will only continue to rise in the future.
Unsurprisingly, those areas with the highest levels of wealth – North America, Asia and Europe – are most at risk from cyber crims whilst poorer, developing regions such as Africa reported the lowest levels of loss. The largest four economies in the world (US, China, Japan and Germany) lost a combined total of $200 billion.
As more countries come online and become ever more interconnected those losses will increase, according to the report.
The causes of such monetary losses are variable and categorised by the report as IP theft and innovation cannibalism, risk-free financial crime, confidential business information and market manipulation, opportunity cost and, significantly, recovery costs.
The latter – recovery costs – are often overlooked yet prove to be very significant indeed. The report highlights the cost of cybercrime in Italy where the actual losses recorded totalled $875 million. however, once the recovery and opportunity costs were factored in, the estimated total loss stood closer to $8.5 billion.
Commenting on the report Mark Sparshott, EMEA Director at Proofpoint said:
“This report does a great job of describing the $445 billion economic impact of cyber-crime on our global economy. To put that into context, if cyber-crime were a country it would have the 27th largest economy on the planet. Therefore this report should help everyone better visualise the scale of the threat we all face today.
However, while these figures may shock the general public, they come as no surprise to security professionals and big businesses. Over the last three years we have seen a dramatic increase in the volume of advanced cyber attacks, most of which start with targeted spear-phishing and long-lining emails. Today these attacks are so sophisticated that they fool security software and humans alike into thinking the emails are genuine.
The volumes of attacks are increasing because it is a profitable business model for organised crime, which has a much lower risk than traditional crime. Over the last few years cyber-crime has evolved into a complex underground economy where you can buy and sell all the components required to launch attacks. Physical crimes like robbery are high risk. With cyber-crime there is no risky getaway because the attack is routed through hundreds or thousands of PCs in dozens of countries, making it almost impossible to trace. The internet makes most attacks anonymous and untraceable and that is really attractive to cybercriminals.”
Read the full report here.