The $5.2 Trillion Price Tag of Cybercrime

As Internet becomes more complex, it's getting difficult for companies to introduce adequate safeguards against cybercriminals
The $5.2 Trillion Price Tag of Cybercrime
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Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific
3 min read


Trust in the digital economy is eroding as the number of cybercrime incidents are increasing by the day. From January to October 2018, there were 67 significant cyber incidents worldwide, compared to 41 incidents in 2016. These figures include attacks on government agencies, defence and technology companies, and financial crime with losses over $1 million, says global law firm Linklaters.

And in the next five years, companies across the world could incur US$5.2 trillion in additional costs and lost revenue owing to cyberattacks, according to a new report from management consulting company Accenture. The “Securing the Digital Economy: Reinventing the Internet for Trust” report says dependency on complex Internet-enabled business models is outpacing the ability to introduce adequate safeguards that protect critical assets.  

The threats involved

Cybercrime poses significant challenges that can threaten business operations, innovation and growth, and the expansion into new products and services, ultimately costing companies trillions of dollars.

The high-tech industry faces the highest risk, with more than US$753 billion hanging in the balance, followed by the life sciences and automotive industries, with US$642 billion and US$505 billion at risk, respectively, says the report, which was based on a survey of more than 1,700 chief executive officers (CEOs) and other C-suite executives around the globe.

“Internet security is lagging behind the sophistication of cybercriminals and is leading to an erosion of trust in the digital economy,” says Omar Abbosh, who leads Accenture’s communications, media and technology operating group globally, in the press release. “Strengthening Internet security requires decisive — and, at times, unconventional — leadership by CEOs, not just CISOs (chief information security officers). To become a cyber-resilient enterprise, companies need to start by bringing CISOs’ expertise to the board, ensuring security is built-in from the initial design stage and that all business managers are held responsible for security and data privacy,” he adds.

When growth of technology hurts

Four in five respondents (79 per cent) in the study said they believed that the advancement of the digital economy will be severely hindered unless there is a dramatic improvement to Internet security, and 59 per cent of respondents said the Internet is getting increasingly unstable from a cybersecurity standpoint and they are unsure how to react.

Three-quarters (75 per cent) of respondents, on the other hand, believe that addressing cybersecurity challenges will require an organized group effort, as no single organization can solve the challenge on its own.

“The Internet wasn’t built with today’s level of complexity and connectivity in mind, which is why it takes just one click — whether inside or outside the company walls — to fall prey to a devastating cyberattack,” says Kelly Bissell, senior managing director of Accenture Security. “No organization can tackle the challenges posed by cyber threats on its own; it’s a global challenge that needs a global response, and collaboration is key. To shape a future that thrives on a strong and trustworthy digital economy, senior executives need to look beyond the bounds of their organization, team with an ecosystem of partners, and secure their entire value chains — across every partner, supplier and customer.”

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