The Cybersecurity 202: Global losses from cybercrime skyrocketed to nearly $1 trillion in 2020, new report finds

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The report underscores the growing dangers that ransomware attacks by foreign criminal enterprises posed to American industries. Lawmakers have been deeply concerned about the impact of such attacks, including on the financial and health-care sectors, in the pandemic. 

The coronavirus inspired an unprecedented number of online scams preying on the fears of both consumers and businesses – and a mass migration of employees to remote work created a perfect storm. 

When workers move to home environments, they are essentially becoming their own I.T. support, said Steve Grobman, senior vice president and chief technology officer at McAfee. It’s really about understanding that this is a different environment and building a security strategy to effectively defend it.

This is their fourth such report on global cybercrime. It “surveyed publicly available information on national losses, and, in a few cases, we used data from not-for-attribution interviews with cybersecurity officials,” the report said. 

The increase in cybercrime stems in part from the dramatic shift in the threat landscape in just the past two years, said Grobman, as hackers move from targeting specific machines or users to whole organizations, using human operators to make the attacks even more effective.

The reason that is so costly to organizations is it’s much more difficult to investigate and recover when an organization doesn’t necessarily know the full scope of a cyberattack and therefore has to do a much more in-depth investigation, he says. Global spending on cybersecurity is expected to exceed $145 billion in 2020, researchers note. 

Not all cyberattacks are successful at stealing money. But they can still have devastating impact. 

The average ransomware attack knocks a company’s systems offline for 18 hours more than enough time to have serious consequences for productivity. 

Most of the incidents are not always successful in the sense of getting money out, but they’re successful in the sense of disrupting operations, disrupting networks, says the CSIS’s James Lewis, who directed the report. It’s not just your monetary losses in the sense of, you know, ‘they took this cash…

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