Has Cybercrime Surpassed Physical Crime? the New Conventional Wisdom Has It That Losses from Computer-Related Crimes Top Those from Traditional Crimes. What Do the Numbers Say?

Article excerpt

THERE'S A PERVERSE competition over who's got it tougher: IT or physical security professionals. The latest salvo in this battle was fired by respondents to an IBM survey, most of whom were chief information officers.

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Almost 60 percent said that cybercrime is more costly to their business than physical crime. That's becoming the conventional wisdom. But what do the numbers say?

It's difficult to nail down because studies that attempt to quantify security losses across sectors and types of crime are based on extrapolation and guesswork. But what numbers there are show that the toll of physical crime in the United States still easily outpaces the cost of cybercrime.

For example, the FBI estimates the annual cost of cybercrime to be about $400 billion annually. Occupational fraud alone--which generally doesn't include schemes using the Internet--is estimated at $660 billion per year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. That might include setting up fictitious payees, altering checks, or overstating corporate assets. Counterfeit goods carve another large chunk out of the U.S. economy--$250 billion, according to the FBI. …

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