Cyber crime's year-end bill: $445B

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Malware has long cost businesses time, money, and credibility — now we know how much.

Cyber crime is costing the global economy $445 billion annually– about one percent of international income, according to a report released Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The report marks one of the first attempts to quantify the effect of cyber crime on the world economy.

You don’t need to read the CSIS report to know that cyber crime is on the rise. It’s not just a matter of money-diverting viruses like Gameover Zeus, which infected at least 500,000 computers worldwide, a quarter of which belonged to small- and mid-size businesses in the U.S. Security breeches at top retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus caused the information of 70 million customers to be compromised. Programming flaws like Heartbleed left all sorts of user information vulnerable. The CSIS report reveals that losses related to personal information equal roughly $150 billion dollars.

The biggest losers, including The United States, China, Japan, and Germany, suffered an estimated $200 billion a year in losses.

The MacAfee sponsored report makes its recommendations clear: In order to combat malware, individuals, companies, and governments need to beef up their cyber security programs — a step many organizations have been slow to take. Failure to do so will only continue to cost the global economy.

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