Apparently, Cybercrime Isn't Actually A Trillion-Dollar Business

from the maybe-it-needs-a-bailout-too dept

While online scams and cybercrime are growing, the claim made recently that cybercrime is a trillion-dollar business simply isn't true, says The Register. As Gary Stiennon points out, if it were, it would be bigger than global IT business itself, as well as the GDP of several industrialized nations. AT&T's chief security officer threw out the figure in front of a Senate committee; he also said that cybercrime was a bigger business than the global drug trade, another claim Stiennon disputes. He dug into where the myth was started, and how it's evolved, and traced it back to a single comment made by a consultant to the US Treasury Department in 2005. It's then been so commonly cited -- often by security companies looking to advance their own agendas -- and repeated that it's become widely accepted. Certainly cybercrime is a problem, and a growing one, but overstating its true impact won't make fighting it any easier.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Davis Freeberg, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 8:43am

    You obviously aren't getting the same emails that I am. In the last two weeks alone, I've won over $1.5 billion in British and Dutch lottery, inherited another $300 million from various Nigerian dignitaries and have been promised another half a billion if I'd agree to assist with a couple of questionable money transfers. I figure if I'm earning $1 billion per week, there has to be at least a trillion dollars in free money out there.

     

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    Ima Fish, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 9:03am

    Who could possibly believe this? A trillion is a lot of money. We'd have to believe that something like one million people have become millionaires based on these scams. Exactly where does this population of one million people live?

    Of course the population could be smaller, but then amount each would earn would go way up. Where is this population of 100,000 people who made $10,000,000 each?!

     

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      :Lobo Santo, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 9:07am

      Re:

      Sounds good, how do I get in on it??

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 9:37am

      Re:

      Even more interesting is how mainstream media has unquestionably repeated fiction as fact without ever digging into the source of this figure. Didn't Weird Harold post just a few weeks ago how the quality of print media reporting is better than the blogosphere because it uses fact checkers and editors? Where and when is this fact checking happening? Wanna take bets on how many newspapers and magazines that printed that $1 trillion dollar figure will print a retraction or correction of those bogus stories?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2009 @ 5:25am

        Re: Re:

        "Didn't Weird Harold post just a few weeks ago how the quality of print media reporting is better than the blogosphere because it uses fact checkers and editors?"

        You mean like that NewYork Times writer that got an award for a completely made up story?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 9:15am

    Ima,


    A trillion isn't that much money.

    - Obama

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 9:23am

    LOL @ Davis and Coward/Obama

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 10:23am

    It's then been so commonly cited -- often by security companies looking to advance their own agendas -- and repeated that it's become widely accepted.

    Ah yes, "The Big Lie".

     

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    Matt, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 10:31am

    Fact checking?

    Fact checking either on the internet or in traditional media? It doesn't exist. Just accept that and take everything with a grain of salt. At least on the internet the made-up news is free. Better than paying good money for the same inaccuracies from a "traditional" source.

     

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      CALLS TO WHITE HOUSE OUTSOURCED TO INDIA, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 11:26am

      Re: Fact checking?

      Next time you call the White House to give the President a piece of your mind, don't be surprised if the operator's regional accent is a bit hard to place -- because the administration has quietly outsourced all phone answering duties to India!

      "That cheerful person answering the phone may identify himself as Sam, but his real name is more likely Satyajit -- and the overwhelming odds are that he lives somewhere like New Delhi," reveals an administration source.

      "Many large companies have outsourced their customer service lines -- the White House is simply adopting a standard, modern- day business practice."

      The Obama administration has tirelessly championed outsourcing, claiming that shipping jobs overseas strengthens the American economy.

      "Outsourcing is just a new way of doing international trade," according to the President's annual report to Congress last year.

      Now, as part of a commitment to trim government expenditures, the White House has begun to practice what it preaches.

      "Look, when Joe Blow from Behind God's Back, Kan., calls to give President Obama his ideas on how to fix the economy or find Osama Bin Laden, it's not as if someone scrupulously jots down the message and passes it on," the administration insider explains.

      "An operator basically blows the guy off in a polite way. Why should we pay an American Auto Worker top dollar to do that when we can hire some poor Indian in Calcutta who'll do it for pennies an hour?"

      To avoid angering unemployed Americans who've lost their jobs to outsourcing, last month's switch from in-house operators went unannounced -- and administration officials refuse to confirm the story.

      "The overseas phone workers have received special training to sound as American as possible -- their accents are almost undetectable," reveals the insider. "They've even been taught American slang phrases."

      One way to tell that your call to the White House has been outsourced is to pay careful attention to that slang. "A lot of it is suspiciously outdated," reveals the insider. "For example, an operator may say, 'Oh, you're calling from Ohio -- that's peachy keen.'

      "Most callers will simply assume the person they're talking to is some really unhip Young Republican type who's as American as apple pie -- but nothing could be further from the truth."

      When Weekly World News called the White House and confronted an operator, he initially insisted he was in Washington. But after 20 minutes of grilling Haresh Ramanuja, 32, confessed that he was answering the call from a sweatshop-like phone bank in New Delhi.

      That doesn't make him a total fraud, he insists.

      "I really do love America," he said. "I love your Bruce Willis, baseball and rock 'n' roll music."

       

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        kirillian (profile), Mar 31st, 2009 @ 12:32pm

        Re: Re: Fact checking?

        Is this from The Onion or something?

        if not, then I commend you for your good BS-storytelling skills...perhaps you should include this on your resume to The Onion on application?

         

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          Valkor, Apr 1st, 2009 @ 1:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Fact checking?

          No, the text says "Weekly World News" which says everything you need to know. I'm still not sure what the article, satirical or not, has to do with the discussion...

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 31st, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Human cognitive limitations at the bottom of the problem

    One of the main problems with journalism is that it "fact" checks by looking for an independent confirmation. Unfortunately, those confirmations are usually the reports of other people who could easily have based their opinion on the same (several steps back) incorrect source, e.g., in the present case, the US Treasury Dept. report. This is one of the main problems with human belief systems, our ideas are constructed not from true independent observation (we conducted our own study of internet crime) and then reason predicted tests of out beliefs (if true than xyz should happen) but rather on what other people tell us they know are the "facts".

     

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