Drug Lords versus Cyber Criminals

While sipping my morning coffee and watching the news, CBS reported that the cyber crime industry annual revenues now exceed that of the illicit drug industry.  The estimate provided was ONE TRILLION dollars!

money background from dollars usa. financial concept

Wow! I don’t get to use the “trillion” number very often in my work.  In fact, I don’t ever remember using it before, but we are a small business.  The drug lords (even their nick name means rich) seem to have an endless supply of money.  These guys can afford to fabricate a fleet of submarines, build miles of long tunnels under borders, and operate a small air force to deliver their cargo.  Living in Texas, drug busts are common, and it seems they don’t make the news unless they are valued at several million dollars.

Obviously, both don’t accurately report their income.  After all, they are private organizations, very private.  After some research - ok, one search on Google - I found conflicting estimates.  Conservative estimates place the cyber crime industry at around $1 billion in tax free annual “income”.  Other analysts stick fast to the trillion mark.  The Target breach criminals pocketed over $400 million, rare but a major score.  The FBI reported that one version of ransomware netted a crime group $30 million last year.  Since then, ransomware attacks are up over 300%.  Thirty such organizations worldwide generating similar revenue adds up to a billion dollars.

There are now 4,000 ransomware attacks per day in the US.  Everybody knows somebody who has been hit by ransomware; 2016 will go down as the Year of Ransomware.  A substantial percentage of cyber-attacks go unreported, some estimate as high as 80 percent.  Based on these numbers, simple math leads one to believe that cyber crime revenue is well past the $1 billion threshold.

I have no idea if the cyber crime industry’s annual revenue exceeds the illicit drug industry.  But if you are comparing the two, it does mean the cyber crime industry is thriving, growing more powerful and sophisticated each day in its ability to steal your data and funds.

shield_c649235_sDon’t be complacent! Get a little paranoid.  Invest some time and money to increase your defenses and learn about the threats you may face.  Knowledge is one of your best defenses.  Protect your customers.  Protect your business.  Protect yourself!

Learn more about protecting your organization at: http://thirdrock.com/compliance-solutions/third-rock-assurance/

Ed Jones, PMP, CHSP
About the Author

Over 30 years of customer facing experience managing projects in healthcare, IT, process automation in a variety of tech industries, Ed has worked for start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. He has performed numerous complex and extensive risk assessments, and developed and managed the corresponding risk management strategies.

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