Cybercrime costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually: study

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A new report estimates that cybercrime costs the U.S. economy between $24 billion and $120 billion a year, including commercial cyber-espionage by trade rival China, online theft and damage to industrial reputations from hacking.

Problems with the availability and accuracy of data, and with assumptions used in extrapolating from them’ “leave many estimates open to question,” states the report, titled “The Economic Impact of Cybercrime and Cyber Espionage.” It was published Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.

The $24 billion to $120 billion range of annual losses would put the costs of cybercrime at less than 1 percent of the national economy — roughly comparable, at the upper end, to the cost of car crashes in the U.S.

The report estimates the global costs of cybercrime to be in the range of $300 billion to $400 billion, about half a percentage point of the global economy.

McAfee Inc., the computer security company that sponsored the report, previously had promoted a much higher figure — $1 trillion — for the annual costs of global cybercrime. That figure was used by President Obama in a 2009 speech that laid out his administration’s priorities on cybersecurity, but the estimate had been slated by economists as being too high.

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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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