Measuring the Changing Cost of Cybercrime

Ross Anderson, Chris Barton, Rainer Böhme, Richard Clayton, Carlos Gañán, Tom Grasso, Michael Levi, Tyler Moore, Marie Vasek

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In 2012 we presented the first systematic study of the costs of cybercrime. In this paper, we report what has changed in the seven years since. The period has seen major platform evolution, with the mobile phone replacing the PC and laptop as the consumer terminal of choice, with Android replacing Windows, and with many services moving to the cloud. The use of social networks has become extremely widespread. The executive summary is that about half of all property crime, by volume and by value, is now online. We hypothesised in 2012 that this might be so; it is now established by multiple victimisation studies. Many cybercrime patterns appear to be fairly stable, but there are some interesting changes. Payment fraud, for example, has more than doubled in value but has fallen slightly as a proportion of payment value; the payment system has simply become bigger, and slightly more efficient. Several new cybercrimes are significant enough to mention, including business email compromise and crimes involving cryptocurrencies. The move to the cloud means that system misconfiguration may now be responsible for as many breaches as phishing. Some companies have suffered large losses as a side-effect of denial-of-service worms released by state actors, such as NotPetya; we have to take a view on whether they count as cybercrime. The infrastructure supporting cybercrime, such as botnets, continues to evolve, and specific crimes such as premium-rate phone scams have evolved some interesting variants. The overall picture is the same as in 2012: traditional offences that are now technically ‘computer crimes’ such as tax and welfare fraud cost the typical citizen in the low hundreds of Euros/dollars a year; payment frauds and similar offences, where the modus operandi has been completely changed by computers, cost in the tens; while the new computer crimes cost in the tens of cents. Defending against the platforms used to support the latter two types of crime cost citizens in the tens of dollars. Our conclusions remain broadly the same as in 2012: it would be economically rational to spend less in anticipation of cybercrime (on antivirus, firewalls, etc.) and more on response. We are particularly bad at prosecuting criminals who operate infrastructure that other wrongdoers exploit. Given the growing realisation among policymakers that crime hasn’t been falling over the past decade, merely moving online, we might reasonably hope for better funded and coordinated law-enforcement action.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019
EventThe 18th Annual Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS 2019) - Boston, United States
Duration: 3 Jun 20194 Jun 2019
Conference number: 18
https://weis2019.econinfosec.org/

Conference

ConferenceThe 18th Annual Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS 2019)
Abbreviated titleWEIS 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston
Period3/06/194/06/19
Internet address

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