The Cost of Hacking

The Cost of Hacking

Blue Coat

More than 600 reported data breaches impacted the operation of businesses, and the lives of everyday citizens in 2013. That same year, the Pentagon’s budget for cyberwarfare prevention was $3.9 billion. The following year the budget grew to $4.7 billion. That pattern of growth has become the norm, and there are good reasons for this.

The federal government first began tracking cybercrime statistics in 2005. That year, the first cybercrime report released by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that 70 percent of cybertheft victims suffered losses of $10,000 or more, while one third of victims from every other category of cybercrime also suffered losses in that same range. In total, the justice department concluded that known cybercrimes had cost U.S. businesses a total of $867 million, and it was believed at the time, that only a fraction of all cybercrimes had been reported.


How much cybercriminals gained from their activities is a hard sum to tally. But, law enforcement statistics gathered in the past decade reveal a few obvious certainties. Cybercrime is big business, and business is growing. Cyberwarfare is very likely a key element, if not the center stage for the future of political conflict. And both of those affect economics and civil liberties in very broad and sweeping ways. And it isn’t just government agencies and large-scale enterprises who have skin in the game. Individuals face risks as well.  

Data has value or IS value, so data theft is a harm in and of itself

Recently, companies involved in civil suits after losing employee data to cyberattackers have attempted to argue in court that data theft, in itself, is not a harm to consumers. The basic rationale behind that argument is that in order for data theft to be harmful, attackers must employ it in some way to directly affect an individual's financial situation. However, people and organizations who have lost data to hackers compare that rationalization to having a loaded gun pointed at them. It’s still a harm even if the assailant stops short of pulling the trigger.  

The fact is that personal data, or company data are the same thing as property. They either have intrinsic value, or they represent direct pathways to accessing forms of value, like a credit card number for example. Theft of any kind of value is just theft, period. Producing and storing data involves costs. Replacing lost data involves costs. Identifying, and repairing the channels through which data has been lost involves more costs. Click below to learn more about the cost of hacking.

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