Data theft (2/4): The global cost of cybercrime and data theft
As we have seen in the previous article, cybercriminals are not lacking in ingenuity to steal users’ data. In this second article, we want to show the reader the magnitude of this often underestimated phenomenon and the disastrous consequences it has on the entire global economy.
The cybercrime magazine Cybersecurity Ventures (1) predicts that the global costs of cybercrime and data theft will increase by 15% per year over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion per year by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015 and an estimated $6 trillion in 2021 (2) (3). The sum is larger than the damage inflicted by natural disasters in a year, and will soon be more profitable than international drug trafficking.
If all the wealth stolen by cybercrime in one year were counted as a country’s GDP, it would be the 3rd richest country in the world, behind the US and China.
Consider the United States, the world’s largest economy with a GDP of nearly $21.5 trillion, equivalent to a quarter of the global economy.
Cybercrime has impacted them so much that every American citizen should expect that all of their data, their identifiable personal information has been stolen and is on the dark web, which is a part of the deep web intentionally hidden and notably used to hide and promote illegal activities. According to some estimates, the size of the deep web (which is not indexed or accessible by search engines) is up to 5,000 times larger than the surface web, and its growth defies quantification. (4)
The dark web is also a marketplace for buying and selling malware, exploit kits and cyberattack services, which cybercriminals use to attack their victims and steal their data, including businesses, governments, utilities and critical service providers.
A cyber attack can potentially disable the economy of an entire city, region or country.
Ted Koppel, a well-known U.S. broadcaster and writer, states in his book “Lights Out” that a major cyberattack on the U.S. power grid is not only possible but probable, that it would be devastating, and that authorities are extremely unprepared. (5)
Billionaire Warren Buffet calls cybercrime humanity’s number one problem and cyberattacks a greater threat to humanity than nuclear weapons. (6)
Cybercrime is therefore the greatest threat to all businesses in the world, and one of the greatest problems facing humanity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further reinforced this fact. For more than a year now, the entire population has been using their home internet networks more and more for leisure activities as well as for work. However, these networks are much less secure than corporate networks and this has created a breeding ground for cyber attacks.
As we have seen, these attacks are extremely costly and take a heavy toll on the world economy every year. Moreover, while governments are aware of the extent of this phenomenon, they are often ill-prepared for major attacks on their databases. Cybercrime and data theft are therefore major issues of the 21st century. But as we have seen in this article how the world economy is affected by data theft and cybercrime in general, we will see next week how much data theft costs, in terms of money but also time, to companies in particular.