Cyber crime costs the world more money than some natural disasters do

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According to a study jointly conducted by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cyber crime may cost the world as much as  $575 billion per year.

Even the smallest estimate, which is pegged at $375 billion a year, dwarfs the cost associated with the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which reportedly amounted to $65.7 billion. However, arriving at an estimate for cyber crime-related losses is difficult, because many instances simply go unreported.

The group reached these conclusions using data that was collected globally by a variety of educational and governmental institutions from the Netherlands, Germany, China, Malaysia, and Australia. The study also used information gathered from various experts in the field.

The group examined both the direct and indirect costs of cyber attacks, including loss of intellectual property and business data, as well as the costs that are associated with ensuring that computer networks are secure, and the other miscellaneous costs of cyber crime.

According to the study, the financial losses suffered as a result of cyber crime will become more prevalent, as our world becomes more closely intertwined with the Internet.

Of all the world’s nations, companies in America incurred the biggest losses as a result of the efforts of cyber criminals. The findings in the study indicate that, the bigger the country is from an income standpoint, the more likely it will suffer losses from severe Internet attacks.

“There are strong correlations between national income levels and losses from cybercrime,” the study said.

Though income is a big factor, there are other considerations that play a role in how hackers determine who and what to strike.

“Cybercriminals decide where to commit their crimes based on an assessment of the value of the target and the ease of entry,” the study said.

So, like a lion chasing down a limping gazelle while on the hunt in Africa, hackers will generally gravitate towards easy targets.

Though cyber crime costs us so much, you should exercise prevention and caution when surfing the Web at all times. Never open attachments from email addresses that you don’t recognize, employ a combination of letters, numbers and symbols with your account passwords, and make use of free firewalls and anti-virus programs, like those offered by Avast, AVG, ZoneAlarm, and others, at all times.

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