As organizations go digital, so does crime. Today, cybercrime is a massive business in its own right, and criminals everywhere are clamoring to get a piece of the action as companies and consumers invest trillions to stake their claim in the digital universe.
Putting things into perspective: Walmart, which racks up America’s greatest firm earnings, generated a mind-blowing $514 billion in revenue last year. Yet cybercrime earns 12 times that. Both sell a huge variety of products and services. In fact, in terms of earnings, cybercrime puts even Tesla, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Walmart to shame. Their combined annual revenue totals “just” $1.28 trillion.
Cybercrime is undergoing an industrialization wave and offers everything that a regular legal company does: product development, technical support, distribution, quality assurance, and even customer service. Cybercriminals rob and then sell new technologies or secret strategic plans that will give their buyers an edge over their competitors. Hackers steal military secrets, renewable energy innovations, and more.
As everything has gone online – including crime – governments struggle to keep up, and want to know how much should be spent on cybersecurity. Policymakers want accurate statistics of online/electronic crime and abuse. However, many of the existing surveys are carried out by organisations (such as security vendors or police agencies) with a particular view of the world and often a specific agenda.
Economic models also provide useful insights. Globalisation means that for much online crime, the perpetrators and victims are in different jurisdictions, reducing both the motivation and the opportunity for police action. Outside the EU, mutual legal assistance was not intended for routine police and criminal justice cooperation but for rare and serious cross-border crimes. Industry incentives remain mixed: the real winners from spam may be firms like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook as people are driven to webmail services with their better spam protection or switch to instant messaging services.