You already know cybercrime is serious (and costly), with cyberattacks responsible for $12.7 million in losses for US-based companies alone, according to the Ponemon Institute's "2014 Cost of Cyber Crime" study. And you know it's time-intensive: The same study concludes that the average amount of time spent by US companies to resolve a cyberattack was 45 days — an alarming figure, to say the least.
But what you might not know is just how widespread and appalling cybercrime's effects truly are. In fact, such criminal activity is a major threat to governments, companies and individuals on a global scale. Everyone is a potential victim of a cybercriminal ring. Here's a look at some of the data surrounding cyberthreats around the world.
International Cybercriminal Activity
In a recent report for Veracode, entitled "The Business and Economic Consequences of Inadequate Cybersecurity," the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) surveyed over 200 British C-suite executives about their views on the government's cybersecurity policies, as well as how seriously they take cybersecurity and the costs associated with breaches. They found that cybercriminal activity cost UK businesses £34 billion a year, with the most severe security breaches to large UK enterprises in 2014 costing between £600,000 and £1.15 million.
CTOs involved in the survey considered theft of corporate intellectual property as their sixth priority in terms of top cybersecurity concerns, and nearly 70 percent believe their current cybersecurity policies negatively impact company innovation. The principal concerns of the UK executives are data breach costs, damage to reputation and lost revenue due to downtime.
According to CEBR, the majority of the C-level British executives did not consider the UK government's cyberstrategy effective in preventing attacks. As Veracode's Director of Enterprise Security Program Management, Adrian Beck, says: "The UK economy is under siege from cyberattackers, and the UK government should look to other successful private/public partnerships as a model of how to improve the situation for us all."
Interpol estimates cybercriminal activity has cost €750 billion annually in Europe alone. What's most frightening is that these losses correspond to a significant share of global GDP. The scenario is especially disconcerting when you consider that the World Economic Forum estimated losses up to $3,000 billion over the next six years, threatening businesses of any industry and size.
To that effect, a study published by the UNICRI, entitled "Cybercrime: Risks for the Economy and Enterprises at the EU and Italian levels," analyzed the impact of criminal activities on the economy in the European region with a specific focus on the effect suffered by enterprises. Its findings include that, in recent years, there's been a noticeable increase in crimes directed toward specific organizations or individuals, such as spear phishing, and countering these crimes is complicated by their transnational nature.
According to the study, "International cooperation between different actors therefore plays a crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. In addition to strong legislative and law enforcement actions, the fight against cyberthreats requires appropriate tools and cooperation, as well as a particularly higher level of knowledge and awareness."
Cybercrime is an attractive option for criminals — even those with backgrounds in more traditional crimes, such as theft — because of its high return on investment (ROI), and the relatively low risk of being arrested. A report published by Trustwave revealed that cybercriminals are seeing significant increases on their ROIs — estimated to be 1,425 percent for a "single malware campaign."
Adrian Leppard, the commissioner of the city of London police, told The Telegraph, "Organized crime is motivated by money. Whichever criminal activity delivers the most money that is where they will go."
"We estimate that around 25 percent of the organized crime groups in this country are now involved in financial crime in one shape or another, but that intelligence only relates to this country," he continued. "We can't tell what the picture is internationally."
Impact on Businesses
According to the Royal United Service Institute, the cyberthreat situation is likely to worsen — and in response to cyberattacks, 88 percent of companies have increased their annual IT security expenditure.
Utilities, energy and mining businesses suffer the most significant reductions in revenue following cyberattacks, with the average loss being close to 3 percent. Financial service industries, meanwhile, have the largest increase in IT spending as a result of illegal online activities.
Veracode's report highlights the need for firms to give higher priority to their organizational and security strategies. Any incidents caused by cyberattacks could have long-term consequences for a company. So no matter who you are or where you are in the world, take time to check out the report, and learn more about cybercrime on a global level.
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