Internet security leader McAfee Inc. has released what it describes as, “a wake-up call for businesses and governments worldwide,” highlighting the vulnerability of much of the world’s intellectual property and sensitive information.


Overall, the study reveals that cyber crime could currently be costing businesses worldwide more than (US)$ 1 trillion annually. The global estimate is based on reports of approximately (US)$4.6 billion in actual intellectual property losses plus another (US)$600 million in ‘firefighting’ and repair costs from 800 corporate Chief Information Officers (CFOs) polled by McAfee in the U.S., UK, Germany, Japan, China, India, Brazil and Dubai. In addition, industry observers are quick to point out that corporate executives may be prone to underestimate losses — or deny them altogether — in response to potentially embarrassing survey questions.

Among the other key findings of the survey:

  • The recession puts intellectual property at much greater risk (as the pressure to compete more effectively increases).
  • Corporate commitments to protect vital information vary greatly.
  • Intellectual property is now a freely-traded international black-market currency, traded similarly to the way consumer credit card information has been traded for some time, now.
  • Financially-strapped and disgruntled employees are increasingly stealing intellectual property for personal financial gain and competitive advantage in the tight job market.

The survey report concludes, rather darkly, that, “The current economic crisis is poised to create a global meltdown in vital information. Increased pressures on firms to reduce spending and cut staffing have led to more porous defenses and increased opportunity for crime. Companies need to stop looking at security as a cost center but as a business enabler.”

The full survey report will be available later today at the McAfee online Press Center. Note: It’s in MS PowerPoint format, so you’ll need PowerPoint or a PowerPoint-compatible reader to view it.

3 Responses to Global cyber crime costs (US)$1 trillion

  1. Evolving Squid
    Jan 29, 2009

    Sensationalism at its most evil.

  2. kingthorin
    Feb 02, 2009

    Re: the note at the bottom of the article. MS actually has a free PowerPoint viewer for windows users (it should be at the top of a quick google for you guessed it “powerpoint viewer”).

    Re: Sensationalism….I agree editors/writers love using headlines that don’t actually portray a valid view of the material articles are based upon. The essential word in this line “…could currently be costing businesses worldwide more than (US)$ 1 trillion annually.” is COULD!

    With the way media reports things these days it’s no wonder the world is in such junky financial shape, speculators and authors cause self fulfilling prophecy.

  3. Maggie James
    Feb 02, 2009


    Thanks for the heads-up on the free PP viewer…

    In defense of serious, responsible, professional editors everywhere, the (US)$1 trillion estimate was based on actual reported figures from just 800 corporations worldwide. The actual reported totals were extrapolated to a global estimate based on the total number of companies of the size polled that are known to exist. The use of ‘could’ in this context reflect the editor’s natural tendency toward caution when dealing with estimates of any kind.

    The best journalism leaves the speculation to others and states no opinions of its own. As an editor, my job is to report what other people say about newsworthy issues and, whenever possible, to present contrasting views so readers can make up their own minds on the issues.

Leave a Reply