Global cyber-crime thefts exceeded £2.7bn in 2019

  • Profits from cyber-crime reported to the US FBI from victims around the world reached $3.5bn (£2.7bn) in 2019, with the impact of unreported crimes currently unknown.

    A new annual report from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Centre shows the scale of cyber-crime worldwide is growing at a significant rate, with an estimated $3.5bn (£2.7bn) in cyber-thefts being reported to the service last year. This figure is up over last year's $2.7bn (£2.08bn) figure.

    This year saw a significant rise in attacks against businesses and individuals involving compromising their email accounts, either through social engineering or breaching a company's cyber-security. The attacker typically breaks into the email account and uses it to transfer funds, or uses a fraudulent account to submit fake invoices to a company's finance department.

    Compromised email addresses accounted for over $1.7bn (£1.3bn) in thefts, with a new strategy emerging in which the attacker emails a company's payroll department with a fraudulent request to update an employee's Direct Debit information. While ransomware caused havoc around the world in 2018 and continued throughout 2019, it accounted for only $8.9m (£6.83m) of adjusted losses.

    The Internet Crime Complaint Centre has now been running for around 20 years and has handled almost five million complaints, with reports currently coming in at a rate of around 1,200 per day. The figures in the report only account for crimes reported to the centre, meaning the true figure for global cyber-theft is expected to be significantly higher. The majority of the crimes reported were US-based, with 93,796 cases being from the UK and thousands more from around the world.

    Source: BBC News, IC3 Report

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