Cybercrime is costing businesses over US$400 billion worldwide and having a significant impact on economies, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and computer security firm McAfee.

The report, entitled “Net Losses – Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime”, said cybercrime affects 400,000 jobs worldwide.

“Cybercrime damages trade, competitiveness, innovation, and global economic growth. Studies estimate that the Internet economy annually generates between US$2 trillion and US$3 trillion, a share of the global economy that is expected to grow rapidly. Based on CSIS estimates, cybercrime extracts between 15 per cent  and 20 per cent of the value created by the Internet,” McAfee said.

The study documented that countries where intellectual property creation is important are particularly badly hit.

“Cybercrime is a tax on innovation and slows the pace of global innovation by reducing the rate of return to innovators and investors,” said Jim Lewis of CSIS.

“For developed countries, cybercrime has serious implications for employment. The effect of cybercrime is to shift employment away from jobs that create the most value. Even small changes in GDP can affect employment.”

McAfee said governments are beginning programmes to collect and compile information on cybercrime, allowing companies to make better decisions about risk and policy.

“It’s clear that there’s a real tangible economic impact associated with stopping cybercrime,” said Scott Montgomery, chief technology officer (CTO), public sector at McAfee. “Over the years, cybercrime has become a growth industry, but that can be changed, with greater collaboration between nations, and improved public private partnerships. The technology exists to keep financial information and intellectual property safe, and when we do so, we create opportunities for positive economic growth and job creation worldwide.”