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The Cost of Cyber Crime

How do you calculate the real cost to society of cyber crime (PDF)? There are the financial losses to individuals and organizations (figures rarely made public), as well as the sizable expense of security software and personnel to protect against possible digital incursions. Then there is the damage to brand image should your company be the unfortunate victim of an online crime. In a paper presented on June 26 to the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security, a team of academics (recruited by the U.K. Ministry of Defence) attempt to estimate the financial toll of Internet crime. The authors observe that we are “extremely inefficient” at fighting cyber crime and offer a hard-line solution: “Our figures suggest that we should spend less in anticipation of cyber crime (on antivirus, firewalls, etc.) and more in response—that is, on the prosaic business of hunting down cyber criminals and throwing them in jail.” Below is a snapshot of their data illustrating the imbalance between what cyber criminals actually take and the money spent to protect against digital crime.

Note: Global estimates include only crimes that result in costs of more than $10 million annually
↑ likely an underestimate
≈ High uncertainty

Source: “Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime,” by Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge; Chris Barton, Cloudmark; Rainer Böhme, University of Münster; Richard Clayton, University of Cambridge; Michel J.G. van Eeten, Delft University of Technology; Michael Levi, Cardiff University; Tyler Moore, Southern Methodist University; and Stefan Savage, University of California, San Diego

For more video and conversation on Fix This/Cyber Security, visit:

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