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

Even researchers involved in putting together the surveyspublished by those companies questioned the legitimacy of the endresults, including McAfee's assertion that companies lost $1trillion to cybercrime in one year. Researchers at PurdueUniversity who helped analyze survey responses and put together thereport have said that the data, included in a press release titled“Businesses Lose More than $1 Trillion in Intellectual Property Dueto Data Theft and Cybercrime,” was scientificallyunsupportable.

It is difficult to pin down the exact monetary cost ofcybercrime because it often is not detected immediately or goesunreported, and the loss of intellectual property can be hard toquantify.

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