It’s no secret that cyber crime is a major, money-draining problem. But exactly how big of an issue is it in terms of monetary figures? Is it a hundreds of millions of dollars problem? Hundreds of billions? Nope, more than that. Try $2 trillion by 2019. This massive number comes from a recent industry report by Juniper Researcher. It’s the kind of number that should get heads turning, and call some much-needed attention to the significant challenges facing a business world that must adapt to ever-evolving cyber threats.
What’s causing cyber crime to rack up such huge losses?
Confronted with a number like $2 trillion, the first logical question is: How is cyber crime going to generate this kind of money? But when you break down how cyber crime works these days, it becomes easy to see how this rapidly growing criminal sector is able to pull in such large sums. However, it’s not only the cyber criminals themselves who are contributing to the influx in virtual crime profits. A lack of preparation on the part of the targets of cyber crime is also driving up malicious earnings. Here are some of the key factors that are leading to the growth of what’s projected to be a $2 trillion criminal industry by 2019:
- More connected devices = broader attack surface: We live in a highly connected world with a whole host of devices. Individuals and businesses harness more mobile devices than ever before, and the numbers are increasing. The proliferation of such devices, coupled with the inherently elevated risk factor that mobility brings, creates an inevitable surge in overall cyber attacks. Recent incidents have shown that mobile attacks can occur on a scale comparable to traditional computer-based intrusions. Earlier this year, for instance, a strain of mobile malware emerged that targeted millions of Android devices.
- The increasing professionalization of cyber crime: It’s a criminal profession, but a profession nonetheless. In recent years, cyber crime has evolved from an amateur practice into a malicious trade that can be taught, learned and improved upon. Acting in a vast network of fellow criminals, hackers refine their skills and swap industry secrets on deep Web forums. They conduct their criminal business with more connectedness, sophistication and success than ever before. Because cyber crime happens irrespective of national boundaries, hackers in one country can collaborate with others across the globe. This creates a huge challenge for law enforcement.
- A bunch of open targets: You’d think that with the constant headlines about cyber crime,companies would be doing everything in their power to protect themselves against a malicious intrusion. But this isn’t happening. Not only aren’t businesses implementing the protective solutions they need, but many are not even equipping their workforce with the basic skills needed to detect and prevent malicious activity. As a result, companies often find themselves in situations where, say, an employee accidentally clicks a spam link, thereby releasing malware onto the network. With the lack of protection the business has, the malware is then free to spread across the entire system and cause massive damages. This story has played out enough times to show that it’s a real issue, and it’s certainly helping cyber criminals reap profits.
These are the causes that are driving cyber crime toward the $2 trillion mark by 2019. But what about solutions? Fortunately, the dominance of cyber crime doesn’t have to be an inevitability. But in order to tackle future-focused criminals, businesses and other entities must pursue future-minded solutions. In part 2 of this piece, we’ll look into what can be done to combat the growing cyber criminal sector.