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Malicious cyber activities caused financial and job losses around the globe

Laptop and Gavel.
Laptop and Gavel.
Fuse via Getty Images

The next frontier for costly confrontations, disputes or perhaps even some form of war will continue in cyberspace. A report published Monday sponsored by McAfee and authored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) revealed that malicious cyber activities were directly responsible for the significant economic setbacks in the United States and abroad.

This was the first time McAfee sponsored this first-of-its-kind report that carefully examined the impact of cyber activities upon the economy. It is estimated that Cybercrime and Cyber Espionage cost $100 billion in losses to the United States (U.S) economy along with 508,000 jobs. This indirectly affects the economic performance of other nations that trade and have economic partnerships with the U.S

“We believe the CSIS report is the first to use actual economic modeling to build out the figures for the losses attributable to malicious cyber activity,” said Mike Fey, executive vice president and chief technology officer at McAfee. “Other estimates have been bandied about for years, but no one has put any rigor behind the effort. As policymakers, business leaders and others struggle to get their arms around why cyber security matters, they need solid information on which to base their actions.”

To help measure accurately these complicated activities on the web CSIS did enlist economists, intellectual property experts and security researchers to successfully put together a comprehensive report.

The categories that were identified as malicious cyber activity were classified as the following:

  • The loss of intellectual property
  • Cybercrime
  • The loss of sensitive business information, including possible stock market manipulation
  • Opportunity costs, including service disruptions and reduced trust for online activities
  • The additional cost of securing networks, insurance and recovery from cyber attacks
  • Reputational damage to the hacked company

This report is supposed to be one of the first to connect cyber activity with job loss. The ongoing debate we hear a good portion of the time in the media or on television is because of inadequate policy, investment, and confounded in meaningless rhetoric.

“This report is also the first to connect malicious cyber activity with job loss,” said James Lewis, director and senior fellow, Technology and Public Policy Program at CSIS and a co-author of the report. “Using figures from the Commerce Department on the ratio of exports to U.S. jobs, we arrived at a high-end estimate of 508,000 U.S. jobs potentially lost from cyber espionage. As with other estimates in the report, however, the raw numbers might tell just part of the story. If a good portion of these jobs were high-end manufacturing jobs that moved overseas because of intellectual property losses, the effects could be more wide ranging.”

The report offers a comprehensive snapshot of the true cost of cybercrime and its overall impact on the economy. Still there are lots of questions to address in this cybernetic world we live in and this is one of the first steps to encapsulate a complicated issue.