Cybercrime losses top $400 billion worldwide, study claims

The estimate is drawn from public data and interviews with experts, according to McAfee and a think tank

Computer-related crimes may cause as much as US$400 billion in losses annually, according to a new study that acknowledges the difficulty in estimating damages from such acts, most of which go unreported.

The study is the second to come from Intel's McAfee security unit in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

It drew on publicly available data collected by government organizations and universities worldwide, including institutions in Germany, the Netherlands, China, Australia and Malaysia, as well as interviews with experts.

The low-end estimate of cyberattack-related losses is $375 billion, while the upper limit is $575 billion, it said.

"Even the smallest of these figures is more than the national income of most countries and governments," the report said.

In 2009, a McAfee study estimated global cybercrime costs at $1 trillion, a figure that was criticized and one that the company later said was flawed. In partnership with CSIS, McAfee released a study in May 2013 that said global cybercrime likely didn't exceed $600 billion, which is the estimated cost of the global drug trade.

The latest report acknowledges that most cybercrime incidents are unreported, few companies disclose attacks and that collecting consistent data is difficult since countries haven't agreed on a standard definition of what constitutes cybercrime.

"A few nations have made serious efforts to calculate their losses from cybercrime, but most have not," it said.

The study's authors found aggregate data for 51 countries in all regions of the world that account for some 80 percent of the world's income. Using that data to estimate a global cost but adjusted by region, the study "assumes that the cost of cybercrime is a constant share of national income, adjusted for level of development," according to the report.

The study looked at direct and indirect costs of cyberattacks, such as the loss of intellectual property, business information, the cost of securing networks, reputational damage and the costs of recovering.

The growth of the Internet and its use for business means "the cost of cybercrime will continue to increase as more business functions move online," the report said.

U.S. companies suffered the highest losses. In general, "there are strong correlations between national income levels and losses from cybercrime," it said.

"Explaining these variations lies beyond the scope of this report, but one possibility is that cybercriminals decide where to commit their crimes based on an assessment of the value of the target and the ease of entry," the report said.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags CriminalCenter for Strategic and International Studiesmcafeeintellectual propertysecuritydata breachlegalcybercrime

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?