By Tim Johnson
McClatchy Washington Bureau
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new report reveals more than 2 billion people worldwide may have had their personal data stolen or compromised. The amount of ransomware and other attacks is so large that law enforcement can confront only the cases involving the greatest damages.
The amount criminals earn off ID theft, hacking and other forms of cybercrime worldwide is approaching the levels of global drug trafficking, and rising rapidly, experts say.
Hackers display “shocking inventiveness” in leveraging technology for extortion as they cause losses of up to $600 billion a year from cybercrime, said James A. Lewis, senior vice president of the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
The Washington think tank and a global computer security company, McAfee, released a joint report Wednesday that described cybercrime as a business of unrelenting growth that floods the internet with a “staggering” amount of malicious activity.
“The situation is getting worse, not better. The trend line is not moving in the right direction,” Howard Marshall, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, said in commenting on the report.
Cybercriminal gangs adopt technology so fast that “about five minutes after release, we’ll see it” in use, Marshall said. Moreover, gangs use anonymizing software and digital currencies that bedevil law enforcement officers trying to track those behind cyber extortions.
More than 2 billion people worldwide may have had their personal data stolen or compromised, the report said. The amount of ransomware and other attacks is so large that law enforcement can confront only the cases involving the greatest damages.
“We talked to one of the bigger (FBI) field offices in the U.S. and they said, ‘We have a million-dollar threshold.’ There’s just too much cybercrime for them to look at anything below a million dollars. That’s just wild. The tide of crime is so overwhelming,” Lewis said.