InternetAnyone who works in IT or has any interest in data security at all can tell you that the number of hacking attacks is on the rise. Worse than that, though, is the fact that the hackers themselves are getting increasingly organized, and that organization is allowing them to share code and develop entirely new attack vectors at an alarming pace.

Business owners know the cost of successful data breaches as well, but generally only as it relates to them and their companies, which begs the following question: just how big a problem is internet crime, anyway?

It turns out that the FBI has the answer to that question, and it’s a dismaying one.

Internet crime, as of last year, officially became a billion-dollar business. It is a $1.3 billion business, to be precise.

That number is based on 298,728 complaints registered last year, but cyber-crime is far too broad a category to be meaningful. Fortunately, the FBI statistics do a good job of breaking it down further, and the top three types of cyber-crime reported in 2016 were as follows:

• Business e-mail compromise
• Confidence fraud
• Non-payment, non-delivery scams

The news gets worse, because the Justice Department estimates that only about 15 percent of cyber-crimes actually get reported to the authorities. For example, many companies that have been impacted by ransomware pay the ransom and never report the incident to the authorities.

It should also be noted that internet-enabled crime doesn’t occur exclusively online. The internet is just one component of the crime, and it plays an important role in its execution, either by providing a foot in the door or gathering intelligence that makes the crime possible.

The United States leads the world in the number of cyber-crimes reported, but the phenomenon is a global one. The other four of the top five nations where it is most prevalent are Canada, India, the UK and Australia.

The lesson here is simple. No matter where in the world you are, no one is safe, and if your IT staff is not prepared to fend off a determined attack, you could very well be next.

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