Study: Cybercrime Is Nowhere Near as Expensive as Previous Estimates

$100 billion vs. $1 trillion.

This guy is everywhere now. (Image Devdsp on Flickr

This guy is everywhere now. (Image Devdsp on Flickr

Politicians and scaremongers are prone to throwing around some pretty big numbers for the costs of cybercrime. But the Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a new report, the costs are something like $100 billion annually–far less than the oft-cited previous estimate of $1 trillion. 

The study is the work of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee, which was also responsible for the higher number, back in 2009. This time, though, they admitted that “some of the assumptions” were wrong. No kidding. 

The lower number takes account of more mitigating factors. The Journal explains:

If the Chinese steal intellectual property, they might not know what to do with it and the cost of the theft would be limited. Likewise, if one U.S. bank is knocked offline by a cyberattack, customers might just use another U.S. bank.

“We’re trying to get away from the ‘Magic 8 Ball’ approach to estimation, where you shake the ball until you get the number you want,” said CSIS’s James Lewis, the study’s co-author.

The $100 billion figure would make damages relatively minor in the grand scheme for things. The Journal notes that, “The cost of car crashes for the U.S. in 2010, for instance, was estimated between $99 billion and $168 billion, the study noted.”

Guess you’ll need something new to panic about!