Global cybercrime costs $600 bn annually: study

The annual cost of cybercrime has hit $600 billion worldwide, fueled by growing sophistication of hackers and proliferation of criminal marketplaces and cryptocurrencies. (AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Global cybercrime costs $600 bn annually: study

WASHINGTON: The annual cost of cybercrime has hit $600 billion worldwide, fueled by growing sophistication of hackers and proliferation of criminal marketplaces and cryptocurrencies, researchers said Wednesday.
A report produced by the security firm McAfee with the Center for Strategic and International Studies found theft of intellectual property represents about one-fourth of the cost of cybercrime in 2017.
Russia, North Korea and Iran are the main sources of hackers targeting financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage, the report found.
The researchers said ransomware is the fastest-growing component of cybercrime, helped by the easy availability of marketplaces offering hacking services.
The global research report comes days after the White House released a report showing cyberattacks cost the United States between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, while warning of a “spillover” effect for the broader economy if certain sectors are hit.
Globally, criminals are using the same tools for data or identity theft, bank hacks, and other cyber mischief, with anonymity preserved by using bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.
“The digital world has transformed almost every aspect of our lives, including risk and crime, so that crime is more efficient, less risky, more profitable and has never been easier to execute,” said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer for McAfee.
CSIS vice president James Lewis said meanwhile the geopolitical risks of cybercrime are a key element in these attacks.
“Our research bore out the fact that Russia is the leader in cybercrime, reflecting the skill of its hacker community and its disdain for western law enforcement,” Lewis said.
“North Korea is second in line, as the nation uses cryptocurrency theft to help fund its regime, and we’re now seeing an expanding number of cybercrime centers, including not only North Korea but also Brazil, India and Vietnam.”
The latest McAfee-CSIS report suggested cybercrime costs were rising from a 2014 estimate of $445 billion.
“Cybercrime remains far too easy, since many technology users fail to take the most basic protective measures, and many technology products lack adequate defenses, while cybercriminals use both simple and advanced technology to identify targets, automate software creation and delivery, and easy monetization of what they steal,” the report said.
The study did not attempt to measure the cost of all malicious activity on the Internet, but focused on the loss of proprietary business data, online fraud and financial crimes, manipulation directed toward publicly traded companies, cyber insurance and reputational damage.


High risk of ‘losing control’ of AIDS epidemic: experts

Updated 22 July 2018
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High risk of ‘losing control’ of AIDS epidemic: experts

  • The world was “probably at the highest risk ever of losing control of this epidemic
  • Speakers warned that donor and domestic funding has dropped significantly

AMSTERDAM: The AIDS epidemic risks resurging and spiralling out of control unless billions of extra dollars are pumped into prevention and treatment, experts warned Sunday on the eve of a major world conference.
An alarming rate of new infections, coupled with an exploding population of young people in hard-hit countries, meant the world could be steering for “a crisis of epic proportions,” said Mark Dybul, an American AIDS researcher and diplomat.
“Bad things will happen if we don’t have more money,” he told a special event organized a day before some 15,000 delegates attend the opening of the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam.
The world was “probably at the highest risk ever of losing control of this epidemic because of demographics and because of countries not paying attention the way they once did, or never did in some cases,” warned Dybul.
UNAIDS last week reported a record number of HIV-positive people using life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ARV), and lower rates of deaths and new infections — though not low enough according to campaigners.
And even this progress risks being overturned.
Speakers warned that donor and domestic funding has dropped significantly, and would likely continue declining.
Under Donald Trump, the US administration has proposed massive spending cuts, though these have failed to pass through Congress so far.
The US is by far the biggest funder of the global AIDS response.
According to UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe, there was a funding gap of almost $7 billion (about six billion euros).
“If we don’t pay now we will pay more and more later,” he told the meeting.
Experts lamented that the successful rollout of life-saving, virus-suppressing drugs may have diverted necessary attention, and cash, away from the need to curb new HIV infections.
ARVs are also increasing being used, mainly in rich countries, to prevent contracting the virus from sex.
To meet the UN goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, infections must be limited to 500,000 per year globally in just two years’ time.
Last year’s 1.8 million new infections showed that “unless we did something completely drastic, we will not get anywhere near” the goal, said Nduku Kilonzo of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council.
“Condoms work!” she underlined, but only when they are available.
Investment in condom distribution has dropped, and less than half the need was being covered, she said.
“We are far, far, far away from our goal of prevention, not just elimination,” Kilonzo warned. “We have a crisis and it is a prevention crisis.”
David Barr, a senior treatment advocate who is himself HIV positive, agreed that access to drugs, without prevention, “will not end AIDS.”
“When I last spoke in this conference center in 1992, I could never have imagined that I would be standing here 26 years later alive and well,” he told delegates.
“I could never have imagined that 21 million people around the world would be on very effective HIV treatment, I could never have imagined that we will have such effective tools to prevent HIV transmission.”
Yet, the success is “incredibly fragile,” warned Barr.
“We can lose our opportunities and the tools we have created if we fail to use them effectively. If we lose them, then we’re back to the horror of 1992” when infections and deaths were skyrocketing.