Cybercrime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019 predicts Juniper Research, and $6 trillion by 2021 posits Cybersecurity Ventures. Cybercrime has already cost U.K. business over £1 billion in the past year according to the U.K.'s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center. And the 2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report states that global cybercrime hit $126 billion in 2015 and probably affected 689 million people in 2015, one of the lowest estimations of the global cybercrime cost. Cybercrime is one of the biggest challenges that humanity will face in the next 20 years. Our economies are becoming more dependent on technology, and thus more vulnerable to emerging variations of cybercrime and e-fraud.
When you see the figures, it's no surprise that the cost of cybercrime is causing considerable concern to governments and business leaders across the globe. By 2021, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts, cybercrime "will cost the world in excess of $6 trillion annually". An international 2018 PwC study of 1,293 CEOs revealed their fear of cybercrime as a risk to growth is up 16 percent in the past year alone, perhaps reflecting emerging anxieties about ransomware and state-sponsored hacking. Compared with their peers, leaders in the Middle East ranked fears around cyber threats higher, at 54 percent, than anywhere else. More widely, cyber threats ranked just behind overregulation on 42 percent and terrorism, 41 percent, and on a par with geopolitical uncertainty.
Cybercrime threats have been around, at least in primitive forms, since about the 1970s just around the time when early commercial LAN (a number of devices connected together is a Local Area Network) technologies were being experimented on and developed. This is also just around the time when the internet was born as the ARPANET -which is sometimes called the grandfather of the internet. The birth of the first'computer-to-computer' links were to be commensurate with the birth of cybercrime and the appearance of what would later be coined'cybercriminals'. A good way to compare this with real-life would be that, as soon as trade developed between civilizations so did the emergence of groups of thieves -which is essentially what most cybercriminals are. The first'worm' (computer virus or malware) was the Morris worm in 1988 that infected the UNIX Noun 1 system at the time and replicated itself, which rendered computers on the network unusable.
This last week has been dominated by news of a big shift in cybercrime, the move away from a single person or small group in one location to cybercriminals forming international coalitions. These new criminal organisations are either formed of groups of hackers banding together, or organised crime syndicates wanting to profit from this lucrative business. Unfortunately, we are not seeing this countered with large-scale co-ordinated international cooperation. There are some that are trying, for example, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace is a partnership between governments and big business that hopes to set standards and rules that governments and business can use to cut down on cybercrime. It's also important to look at how nations are dealing with cybersecurity.
The recent wannacry ransomware threatened businesses around the world, sent governments into disarray and nearly brought the NHS to its knees. But maybe something good has come of it. Questions of commitment were instantly asked by politicians, journalists and most importantly the public, as the WannaCry post-mortem got underway. So how does the UK stack up against other nations in its commitment to cybersecurity? And is it doing enough to ensure its virutal boarders aren't breached again?