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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Overstated Losses Due Online Crimes

A couple of Microsoft’s insecurity experts are sure that cybercrime losses are overstated. Dinei Florêncio and Cormac Herley are leading researchers at Microsoft Research, and they claim that although the idea is widespread that the global economy is losing around $1 trillion annually because of cyber crime, in fact the reality is not that impressive.

The researchers point out that if it’s possible to make a fortune by downloading and running software, there would be millions of people doing so. The experts took a look at piracy and cybercrime from an economic point and revealed that only a few criminals do well. As for the rest, they believe that cybercrime is only a low-profit struggle which isn’t even worth the effort.

Basically, such cybercrimes as spam and password-stealing feature the same economics as the fishing industry, and since fish stocks are driven to exhaustion, there will never be enough “easy money” to go around. The researchers believe that cybercrime estimates are mostly generated through using absurdly bad statistical methods, depending on the surveys made by consumers and companies.

In case 5,000 people are asked to tell about their cybercrime losses, it will only take one person to falsely claim he or she lost $25,000 due to scam to add $1 billion to the overall estimate. Taking into account that those people who never lost anything aren’t considered, the statistics for these anomalies aren’t cancelled out.

The experts explained that in cybercrime surveys they have examined 90% of the estimate came from the answers of 1 or 2 people only. According to their report, cybercrime billionaires can’t be located simply because they don’t exist. In the meantime, few people know anyone who’s lost a huge amount of money as the victims are far rarer than the exaggerated estimates would imply. 

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