The Financial Losses From Cybercrimes Are Up

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A new report shows about 5 billion digital records were exposed in 2018, and nearly all cyberattacks were preventable.

By Sintia Radu, International Affairs ReporterJuly 12, 2019, at 3:54 p.m.More

The Costs From Cybercrimes Are Up

This picture taken on November 3, 2016 shows on a screen viruses list at the LHS (High Security Laboratory) of the INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation) in Rennes.
Paradise where computer viruses blossom under the watchful eye of scientists, the Laboratory of high security (LHS-PEC) of Rennes is a small fortress from where emerge the first studies on the "ransomwares", those digital brigands which Dominate the malware market. / AFP / DAMIEN MEYER        (Photo credit should read DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

A list of computer viruses is shown at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation in Rennes, France.(DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

LAST YEAR BROUGHT MIXED news for the potential targets of cybercrimes, as the number of cyber incidents decreased worldwide from 2017, according to a cybersecurity advocacy organization. At the same time financial losses from cyber incidents rose, according to a new report published by the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance.

More than 2 million cyber incidents in 2018 caused at least $45 billion in losses, according to the report, which was produced by examining material from organizations that track data breaches.[ 

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“The financial impact of ransomware rose by 60%, losses from business email compromise doubled, cryptojacking incidents (the unauthorized use of others’ computing resources to conduct cryptomining) more than tripled, and there continued to be a steady stream of high-profile data breaches,” say the authors of the report published in July.

The report’s authors acknowledge the difficulty in drawing a clear picture of the impact of cybercrime worldwide, saying they likely have underestimated the number of incidents and financial costs. If anything, coming up with a number looks like putting together a puzzle, the authors said.

“In tracking cyber incidents, many key data ‘pieces’ exist, but are limited for a variety of reasons – they often represent only one vendor’s view of their user base, they are typically regional and not global, it is easier to measure attacks than measure which are successful, there is a lack of consolidated reporting mechanisms, and finally, it is still the case that most incidents go unreported.”[ 

MORE: Greatest Cyberthreat May Be Rapidly Changing Technology, Expert Warns ]

Among other findings in the report:

  • The largest breach in the world last year exposed 1.1 billion records of Aadhaar, India‘s national ID database. It happened early in the year and was attributed to an unsecured API, the acronym for Application Programming Interface – the software that allows applications to communicate.
  • About 5 billion records were exposed overall in 2018, 35.9% fewer than in the previous year.
  • According to experts, 95% could have been prevented.
  • 2018 also saw a 3.2% decrease in reported breach incidents.
  • The financial impact of ransomware reached $8 billion in 2018.
  • There was a 12% rise in business targeted ransomware.
  • There were $12.5 billion in registered losses in global business email compromise since 2013.

Among the trends in cybercrime in 2018, the Online Trust Alliance noted a decline in the number of attacks by ransomware, a malicious software that denies access to systems and data until a ransom is paid.

The organization also noted the expansion of the cyber insurance industry, the increased vulnerability of cloud services, the rise of attacks through Internet of Things devices, and shifts in countries’ regulations.

Sintia Radu, International Affairs Reporter

Sintia Radu covers international affairs and technology for U.S. News & World Report

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