Quantifying Cybercrime: Using Real Life Data to Estimate Cybercrime Impact

We’ve known for centuries that a life of crime can be lucrative for bad guys. Crime rings, gangs, mafias and other groups of criminals have wreaked havoc on businesses and individuals for a long time, usually with dollar signs as the ultimate goal. But trying to identify and measure crime in the cyber world has been tricky; technology has made crime much more abstract, anonymous and difficult to track.

As cybercrime increases and evolves over time, it’s hard to know precisely the impact it has on people’s wallets and the nation’s coffers. My colleagues and I at McAfee have been looking to find a scientific way to develop an accurate, defendable method of measuring the real economic impact of malicious cyber activity on the national and global landscape, tracking such activity much as we would track those other types of crime rings.

I’m delighted to say that McAfee has partnered with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to build an accurate economic model to identify losses due to cyber criminals. Because this type of approach has never been used for cyber security data before, we looked at situations from the physical world, like models used to estimate data on car crashes, piracy, drug use and other crimes, to establish a way to quantify the impact of cyber breaches.

The economics of measuring cybercrime is extremely complex. While others have attempted to quantify the impact, the studies have lacked a sufficient amount of rigor to provide a truly accurate estimate. This new CSIS study is unique for the use of sound economics to develop a truthful estimate of the cost of cybercrime.

But how can we define malicious cyber activity? For this research, CSIS compiled a six-part definition to clearly illustrate the activities that are generally lumped under the “cybercrime” category, including loss of intellectual property, reputational damage to the affected organization and more.

Our findings (part one of a two-part study) are compelling and illustrate the serious impact cybercrime is having on the nation and world. We invite you to learn more when we officially announce the findings on Monday, July 22 at 1:30 p.m. EDT at CSIS in Washington, DC.


To RSVP, please contact Lianna Catino: lcatino@rhstrategic.com

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