The annual cost of cyber crime to the global economy is about US$445bn, while the damage to business from the theft of intellectual property exceeds the US$160bn loss to individuals from hacking, according to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
A conservative estimate would be US$375bn in losses per year, while the maximum could be up to US$575bn according to the study, sponsored by security software company McAfee.
“Cyber crime is a tax on innovation and slows the pace of global innovation by reducing the rate of return to innovators and investors,” said Jim Lewis, director of the CSIS technology and public policy programme in a statement. “For developed countries, cyber crime has serious implications for employment.”
The world’s top four economies bore the brunt of the losses, the research found, with total losses incurred by the US, China, Japan and Germany reaching US$200bn a year. Losses connected to personal information, such as stolen credit card data, was estimated at up to US$150bn.
About 40m people in the United States, representing 15% of the population, has had personal information stolen by hackers, it said, while high-profile breaches affected 54m people in Turkey, 16m in Germany and more than 20m in China.
McAfee, owned by Intel Corp, added that improved international collaboration has begun to show results in reducing cyber crime, for example in last week’s cracking of a crime ring that infected hundreds of thousands of computers known by the name of its master software, Gameover Zeus.
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