Cybercriminals Netting $1.5 Trillion A Year

For a guide on how to implement an ISO 27001 - Information Security Management System - in your organisation, please click here for more information

Tech researchers have published a report after finding that cybercriminals are cashing in more than $1.5 trillion a year, outpacing the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Walmart’s profits combined.

The report comes courtesy of Atlas VPN who looked at data of crime that involved a computer playing a key role, stating that cybercrimne’s annual revenue is 3 times bigger than commerce giant Walmart’s profit for the year which was $514 billion.

“Sorting cybercrime into groups by revenue, illegal online markets take first place with $860 billion in earnings per year,” researchers at Atlas VPN noted. “Here, cybercriminals sell a wide variety of products including guns, drugs, pharmaceuticals and counterfeit goods.”

“Cybercriminals steal and then sell innovative technologies or secret strategic plans that give companies a competitive advantage...netting half a trillion dollars each year”

Rachel Welch, Atlas VPN’s chief operating officer said that “all things considered, with entry costs relatively low and profits exceeding those of traditional crimes, cybercrime is an attractive choice for most criminals. Thus, we can expect cybercrime cases to reach new heights in 2020.”

“Trade secret or intellectual theft earns more than half a trillion USD in revenue per year,” they stated, adding that “cybercriminals steal and then sell innovative technologies or secret strategic plans that give companies a competitive advantage. Hackers steal military technologies, renewable energy innovations and much more.”

Ransomware, commonly deployed on organisations and individual employees to gain access to an organisation’s wider network and lock it remotely until a ransom is paid netted cybercriminals a reported $1 billion last year, while crime-ware of cybercrime-as-a-service (CaaS) gave cybercriminals $1.6 billion last year, the researchers noted.

“Data trading is in third place in terms of earnings, with a staggering $160 billion per year. Data trading generaties 10 times more revenue than crime-ware or 16 times more than ransomware. There is a wide range of data for sale on the dark web. You can purchase anything from stolen credit card details to a person’s birth date or address.”

Authors of the report noted that cybercriminals with a “well-calibrated team selling a wide array of services” wereable to earn 10-15% more than their traditional criminal counter-parts. They earn a reported $2 million each year, but there is a wage disparity within the ranks of cybercriminals, with ring-leaders taking the largest slice. The payment involved for certain hacking operations also takes into consideration just how risky a certain job is, with lower-risk and easier jobs earning a hacker around $45,000 a year, while large jobs could net them $2.5 million a year.

The authors of the report dismissed a common misconception about hackers, that they’re a “guy wearing a hoodie in a dark room. Nowadays, cyber-criminal groups have everything from hiring staff to executives. Some groups even have public personas who make sure the hacker group has a good reputation. Hackers sell most of their stolen goods on the dark web, where reputation is key.”

Etay Maor, IntSight’s chief security officer said that “based on underground chatter in criminal forums, IntSights researchers predict two outcomes: a temporary slowdown in the trade of criminal goods and services - including stolen credit cards and credentials - and an increase in the purchase of cryptocurrencies while costs are low. Increased investment into digital coin is likely to happen in more stable regions of the world where criminals have invested into local currencies and physical goods.”

“All things considered,” writes Atlas VPN, “with entry costs relatively low and profits exceeding those of traditional crimes, cybercrime is an attractive choice for criminals. There’s also less risk when carrying out cyber-attacks than, let’s say, burglary or armed robbery,” before going on to state the importance of a virtual private network (VPN) in your home and business.

An information security management system is arguably more effective at mitigating the risk - and damage in the wake of a cyber breach - if you were to be caught up in the net of cyber criminals. Click here to find out more about ISO 27001, and the benefits for your organisation’s reputation, customer trust and improved business continuity with an information security management system.

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