Cybercrime Losses Continue to Mount

High-profile snatching of content from Netflix and HBO may have grabbed the headlines in recent weeks and months, but the overall cybercrime trend itself has become increasingly harrowing.

“From a cybersecurity standpoint, the second quarter of 2017 has been one of the scariest in years,” Panda Security, a maker of cybersecurity systems and monitoring tools, proclaimed in its analysis for the second quarter.

The firm noted that the WannaCry attack in May and the GoldenEye/Peyta attack in June were the “standouts,” as they had an impact on multiple countries, which are still recovering. Some estimates put the overall cost of those attacks at between $1 billion and $4 billion, meaning the average loss per victim ranged from $4,300 to more than $17,000.

The Cybersecurity Issue: Primetime Targets

The frequency and financial impact of internet crimes are showing no signs of slowing.

In its 2016 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a branch of the FBI, said it has received an average of more than 280,000 complaints per year over the past five years. Formed in May 2000 to monitor scams such as ransomware, tech-support fraud and online extortion, the IC3 said more than 3.7 million cybercrime-related complaints have been reported since its inception.

Last year alone, IC3 received almost 300,000 complaints with reported losses in excess of $1.3 billion. With 2016 factored in, the reported losses since 2012 total $4.63 billion, the division said.

Ransomware, whereby the victim is urged to pay a ransom (usually in the form of a virtual digital currency like Bitcoin) to regain access to their data, continues to be a growing contributor. Last year, IC3 received 2,673 ransomware-related complaints, with associated losses of more than $2.4 million.

“Ransomware is still on the rise, and will continue to be as long as there are victims willing to pay,” Panda Security noted.

Panda Security’s latest report amplifies a growing trend, noting that of all the machines protected by its platform, 3.44% were attacked by unknown threats in Q2, up almost 40% from the previous quarter.

And hackers will have more targets to pursue amid the rise of the Internet of Things and as more connected “smart cities” emerge.

“Hyper-connected cities that are made up of networks of millions of devices will increase the overall reach of attacks, and the consequences will be more costly and more severe,” Panda Security predicted.