Online Criminals Costing $666 Million – Survey

Rhett Pardon
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Online criminals are costing businesses an estimated $666 million, according to a survey of computer security executives released Tuesday.

In another study, retailers who sell only on the Internet turned a collective profit for the first time last year. The report said U.S. online sales jumped to $114 billion last year, a 51 percent increase from the prior year's sales of $75.7 billion.

The survey on online crime was conducted by CSO magazine, which is read primarily by chief security officers.

The study showed that more than 40 percent of 500 executives polled said hackers have become the greatest cybersecurity threat to business and government networks, compared to 28 percent who feared internal threats such as disgruntled or recently fired employees.

The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service and the CERT cybersecurity center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, also showed that more than 40 percent of the respondents said the number of computer crime incidents increased from 2002 to 2003, compared to 6 percent who said it dropped.

Thirty-six percent of the respondents said that they monitor employees' web use and other activities to prevent internal sabotage and leaks.

“Studies like this show that CEOs and CFOs unwilling to make investments [in cybersecurity] are paying a dangerous game of Russian roulette," Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, told XBiz.

Framingham, Mass.-based CSO, which conducted its survey in late April, sent email solicitations to the magazine's subscribers and members of the Electronic Crimes Task Force, run by the Secret Service.

The online retail report from Boston-based Forrester Research Inc. and Shop.org is a closely watched gauge of online shopping because it reflects the online results from 150 U.S. retailers, including closely held companies and large physical retailers who otherwise don't publicly disclose details about their Internet businesses.