Cybercrime numbers out

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) have been adding up numbers and have divided by their shoe size to come up with a cost for cybercrime worldwide.

As you might expect the numbers came out in their billions because they set a value on the esoteric costs of “damage to business from the theft of intellectual property.” As a result the final cost of hacking is $445 billion. However a slightly more reasonable figure is the estimated $160 billion loss to individuals from hacking.

The CSIS said cyber crime was a growth industry that damaged trade, competitiveness and innovation.

A conservative estimate would be $375 billion in losses, while the maximum could be as much as $575 billion, said the study.

The study was sponsored by security software company McAfee which has absolutely no interest in causing a panic about the cost of hacking. It said improved international collaboration was beginning to show results in reducing cybercrime, for example in the takedown last week of a crime ring that infected hundreds of thousands of computers known by the name of its master software, Gameover Zeus.

Jim Lewis of CSIS said in a statement that Cyber crime is a tax on innovation and slows the pace of global innovation by reducing the rate of return to innovators and investors. For developed countries, cyber crime has serious implications for employment.

The world’s biggest economies bore the brunt of the losses, the research found, with the toll on the United States, China, Japan and Germany reaching $200 billion a year in total.

Losses connected to personal information, such as stolen credit card data, was put at up to $150 billion.

About 40 million people in the United States, or 15 percent of the population, has had personal information stolen by hackers, it said, while high-profile breaches affected 54 million people in Turkey, 16 million in Germany and more than 20 million in China.