Study: The Cybersecurity Problem is Only Getting Worse

A new forecast out of a Menlo Park, Calif.-cybersecurity research firm doesn’t bode well for the future of protecting against everything from theft of intellectual property to property damages to data destruction.

While annual cybercrime costs hit $3 trillion in 2015, 50 times more data will need to be protected by 2021, at a an annual cost of $6 trillion, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Those figures also forecast what both businesses and individuals will lose due to lost productivity, embezzlement, fraud and post-attack disruption.

“Cybercrime damage costs will rise sharply alongside a massive expansion of the worldwide cyber attack surface,” said Steve Morgan, founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures, and author of the report. “Over the next five years the number of people online will double from 2 billion to 4 billion … there will be several hundred billion new lines of software code produced.”

The report estimates that by 2021, the number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices will have balloon into the hundreds of billions, with more than 100 million new wearable devices shipped. On top of that, 90% of cars will be connected online, and the number of wirelessly connected implantable medical devices (IMDs) in humans “will grow several-fold.”

“While international cyber battles are certainly scary and grabbing the headlines in major daily newspapers, the bigger picture cyberwar is one of Black-Hat hackers vs. the world – where everyone, every (Internet of) Thing, and every bit of data is at risk of theft, damage or destruction,” Morgan added. “If it’s got a heartbeat or an electronic pulse, then it’s hacker prey.”

Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of information security advisory firm Herjavec Group — which co-sponsored the report — added that cyber warfare has effectively “crossed from the digital world into our physical realm, and there is a very real potential cybercrime will lead to the loss of human life.

“A breach of our power grids, of our dams, or of air traffic control mechanisms, could have catastrophic effects that are felt far beyond the financial and reputational impacts of a corporate attack,” Herjavec said.