Cybercrime now an existential threat to businesses
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Cybercrime now an existential threat to businesses

Cybercriminals worldwide now manage to rake in “at least” $1.5 trillion annually, according to digital strategist Marc Wilczek. To conceptualise the scale of that figure, he illustrates it thusly: “if cybercrime were a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world.” This is a worrying statistic, but the things driving it are showing no sign of slowing down: more and more people want to go online, and digital technologies are increasingly an important part of many organisations. That’s done a lot of good – but protection has never been more important.

Researchers at ThreatMatrix agree. They recently released their “Q1 Cybercrime Report” and the numbers are frightening: the first three months of the year saw a record number of bot attacks – 1 billion – around 100 million of which came from mobile device users. Ecommerce merchants, they say, are particularly at risk.

According to Michael McGuire, senior lecturer in criminology at Surrey University (from whom the $1.5 trillion figure comes), cybercrime is a relatively diversified market: he says that illicit or illegal online markets account for $860 billion, intellectual property theft makes up around $500 billion, data trading is responsible for $160 billion, crimeware-as-a-service is responsible for $1.6 billion, and ransomware makes up around $1 billion.

McGuire says that cybercrime is inherently linked with other types of criminal activity: "We can clearly link cybercrime to the spread of new psychoactive substances with over 620 new synthetic drug types on the market since 2005," adds McGuire. "Many substances of this kind are manufactured in China or India, purchased via online markets, then shipped in bulk to Europe. But there is also evidence that groups who acquire revenues from cybercrime are involved in the active production of drugs."

But he also stresses that "there is a range of ways in which many leading and respectable online platforms are now implicated in enabling or supporting crime, albeit unwittingly, in most cases." Nation States and companies benefit from what he calls a “web of profit” (by which he means the interconnectedness of legitimate platforms like Amazon and Google), but illegitimate platforms and actors can hack into these sites to gain data, or float stolen or fraudulent goods via them.

This “post-crime” reality is a necessary function of the increases in technology that are powering the modern age. As such, it is neither wholly negative, nor completely reversible. However, it highlights something very important: the provision of cybersecurity measures is not going to go out of fashion any time soon – and cyber security is now a mainstream issue.

Disclosure

Dominion holds a number of companies involved in cybersecurity in its Global Trends Managed and Ecommerce Funds.


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