What Is the Real Cost of Cybercrime? (ProPublica)

Investigation questions the high price tag for threats touted by cybersecurity companies.

Reports on the scope of cybercrime may be overblown by companies that stand to profit, according to an investigation by ProPublica. Figures often cited by politicians and government officials have come from two large cybersecurity companies, Symantec and McAfee, that sell software to guard against cybercrime.

Even researchers involved in putting together the surveys published by those companies questioned the legitimacy of the end results, including McAfee’s assertion that companies lost $1 trillion to cybercrime in one year. Researchers at Purdue University who helped analyze survey responses and put together the report have said that the data, included in a press release titled “Businesses Lose More than $1 Trillion in Intellectual Property Due to Data Theft and Cybercrime,” was scientifically unsupportable.

It is difficult to pin down the exact monetary cost of cybercrime because it often is not detected immediately or goes unreported, and the loss of intellectual property can be hard to quantify. 

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