The impact that cybercrimes can have on economies worldwide has significantly increased over the last few years, with a new report saying that such incidents now take a $600 billion toll on the global economy. The number is huge as it accounts for 0.8 percent of the global GDP, and is up from about $445 billion reported in 2014.
The report by cybersecurity firm McAfee, prepared in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that cybercriminals have been rapidly adopting new technologies over the last three years, which has helped them ease the process of engaging in criminal activities.
Thanks to the ever-evolving digital world, a lot has changed over the years, including the risks involved in crimes. This has, however, made crimes more efficient and easier to execute while also making it even more profitable than ever before. For instance, cybercriminals now use ransomware to outsource much of their work to skilled contractors.
"Ransomware-as-a-service cloud providers efficiently scale attacks to target millions of systems, and attacks are automated to require minimal human involvement," Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee, said in a statement.
"Add to these factors cryptocurrencies that ease rapid monetization, while minimizing the risk of arrest, and you must conclude that the $600 billion cybercrime figure reflects the extent to which our technological accomplishments have transformed the criminal economy as dramatically as they have every other portion of our economy," Grobman added.
According to the report, ransomware has turned out to be the fastest growing cybercriminal tool, with over 6,000 online criminal marketplaces and ransomware-as-a-service gaining in popularity.
The report also stated that banks continue to be the favorite target of cybercriminals while government-backed attacks are considered to be the most dangerous ones. Russia, North Korea, and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions while China is the most active in cyber espionage, the report added.
"Our research bore out the fact that Russia is the leader in cybercrime, reflecting the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for Western law enforcement," James Lewis, Senior Vice President at CSIS, said in the statement. "North Korea is second in line, as the nation uses cryptocurrency theft to help fund its regime, and we're now seeing an expanding number of cybercrime centers, including not only North Korea but also Brazil, India, and Vietnam."