McAfee, in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), released a global report that focuses on the significant impact that cybercrime has on economies worldwide. The report concludes that cybercrime costs businesses close to $600 billion, or 0.8 percent of global GDP, which is up from a 2014 study that put global losses at about $445 billion.
The report attributes the growth over three years to cybercriminals quickly adopting new technologies, the ease of engaging in cybercrime – including an expanding number of cybercrime centers – and the growing financial sophistication of top-tier cybercriminals.
“The digital world has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, including risk and crime, so that crime is more efficient, less risky, more profitable and has never been easier to execute,” said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee. “Consider the use of ransomware, where criminals can outsource much of their work to skilled contractors. Ransomware-as-a-service cloud providers efficiently scale attacks to target millions of systems, and attacks are automated to require minimal human involvement. Add to these factors cryptocurrencies that ease rapid monetization, while minimizing the risk of arrest, and you must sadly conclude that the $600 billion cybercrime figure reflects the extent to which our technological accomplishments have transformed the criminal economy as dramatically as they have every other portion of our economy.”
Banks remain the favorite target of cybercriminals, and nation states are the most dangerous source of cybercrime, the report finds. Russia, North Korea and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage.
“Our research bore out the fact that Russia is the leader in cybercrime, reflecting the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for western law enforcement,” said James Lewis, senior vice president at CSIS. “North Korea is second in line, as the nation uses cryptocurrency theft to help fund its regime, and we’re now seeing an expanding number of cybercrime centers, including not only North Korea but also Brazil, India and Vietnam.”
The report measures cybercrime in North America, Europe and Central Asia, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. Not surprisingly, cybercrime losses are greater in richer countries. However, the countries with the greatest losses (as a percentage of national income) are mid-tier nations that are digitized but not yet fully capable in cybersecurity.