Global Cybercrime Worth $1.5tn a Year

Cybercriminal operations are generating revenues of at least $1.5tn.

According to research worldwide cybercriminal operations are generating revenues of at least $1.5tn.

The study commissioned by virtualisation-based security firm Bromium reveals the overall figure is made up of estimated earnings of $860bn from illicit/illegal online markets, $500bn from intellectual property theft, $160bn from data trading, $1.6bn from crimeware-as-a-service and $1bn from ransomware.

The research exposes the professionalisation of cybercrime and details how cybercriminal profits are acquired, laundered, spent and reinvested.

Also revealed in the study is the emergence of platform criminality, mirroring the platform capitalism currently used by companies like Uber and Amazon, where data is the commodity.

The report raises concerns that this platform criminality model is enabling and funding broader criminal activities.

According to McGuire, who is to present the full findings of the nine-month Web of Profit study at the RSA Conference in San Francisco cybercrime can no longer be compared to a business because it is now an economy, with an interconnected web of profit that blurs the lines between the legitimate and illegitimate – with both feeding off one another.

He said: “We are looking at a hyper-connected range of economic agents, economic relationships and other factors now capable of generating, supporting and maintaining criminal revenues at unprecedented scales.”

The research presents evidence that cybercrime revenues often exceed those of legitimate companies, especially at the small to mid-size range.

McGuire argues that “companies and nation states now make money from this web of profit. They also acquire data and competitive advantages from it, and use it as a tool for strategy, global advancement and social control.”

He added: “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.” 

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