Cybercrime has become one of the most significant threats to American businesses, according to a new survey of 500 executives of businesses, law enforcement services and government agencies. The 12th annual survey of cybercrime found that it continues to grow, with three out of four respondents saying they had detected a security breach in the last year and the average number of intrusions was 135 per organization.
Turning stolen data into money is not difficult, particularly in foreign markets. Since the security breaches can result in hundreds, thousands, or sometimes even millions of credit card numbers or Social Security numbers and other identifying information being compromised, hackers can sell that information cheaply to nefarious customers around the world.
An Increasing Cost
Corporations of all sizes have invested heavily in companywide security, but despite those efforts, cybercrime is only becoming more common, according to the survey, which was sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the U.S. Secret Service, the CERT Division of Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute and CSO security magazine.
Hackers are always a step ahead of new security protocols and software. said Ed Lowery, who leads the Secret Service's cybercrime investigation efforts.
"Despite substantial investments in cybersecurity technologies, cyber criminals continue to find ways to circumvent these technologies in order to obtain sensitive information that they can monetize," Lowery said. The ability to circumvent expensive security efforts has only resulted in each cyber attack costing businesses larger amounts of money.
Over the past five years, the financial impact of cybercrime has steadily risen, which is bad news for the 75 percent of businesses PwC surveyed that had experienced a security breach in the past 12 months. The 2013 Cost of Cyber Crime Study report from the Ponemon Institute revealed last year that on average, organizations that experience cyber attacks lose $11.56 million every 10 months. Ponemon reported an even greater number of security breaches, with businesses experiencing 122 attacks every week.
Cybercrime may have a direct monetary impact on businesses, but high-profile attacks like those against Target and Neiman Marcus have changed the way that American consumers interact with corporations. Out of all the complaints recorded by the Federal Trade Commission in 2013, identify theft was the most common, showing just how often a security breach can result in consumers losing their peace of mind.
Not all identity theft can be tied to a business that was compromised, but with hundreds of millions of credit cards being put at risk each year because of corporate security issues, businesses contribute to that statistic. Identity theft has topped the FTC's complaint list since 2006, with the number of complaints growing.
When consumer data like credit card numbers and Social Security numbers are compromised in a corporate security breach, consumers are at risk of bank, credit card, and many other types of fraud. In total, U.S. consumers lost $1.6 billion due to these types of fraud in 2013, and that number is only expected to grow as criminals target more businesses and consumers.