Global Cost of Cybercrime Now Tops $400 Billion

The global cost of cybercrime to the economy is $445 billion (£266 billion) according to a new report published by online security company McAfee.

Stealing personal information and cyber espionage is likely to have affected in excess of 800 million people during 2013. As many as 150,000 Europeans could lose their jobs as a result of financial losses due to theft, according to the report.

This staggering amount can go a long way towards reducing many national deficits in the wake of current economic uncertainty.

Cyber crime damages trade between nations, competitiveness, global economic growth, and slows the pace of innovation. It also damages our trust in public services at a time when governments are striving to transform the way they interact with citizens online, delivering more for less.

The total cost of cybercrime to the UK economy alone was $11.4 billion during 2013, the equivalent to 0.16 per cent of the GDP. Retailers lost more than $850 million during the same period as a result of penalty free financial crime.

The report suggests that global governments need to start collecting and publishing data on cybercrime to help countries and companies make better choices about risk and policy.

But will countries do what's actually required?

I suspect not.

Like large corporates ever-sensitive to the fluctuation in their share price and subsequent market uncertainty UK and US Plcs will not want to publish comprehensive but damaging statistics on local cybercrime which may prevent inward investment.

So, for the time being businesses are on their own.

Running a good business is about striking a fair balance between entrepreneurial drive and implementing good risk management. Organisations, particularly small and medium sized businesses need to ditch the mindset that it won't happen to them. Startups can be particularly vulnerable, especially in the early days when the drive to make the first profit far outweighs the preventative measures needed to reduce the threat of attack.

Commercial organisations have their own role to play in protecting their valuable assets, for example business-critical data and information, intellectual property, employees, etc. from cyber crime attacks.

This is where a resilience and IT security strategy is required which also includes a business continuity plan.