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Two-thirds of firms hit by cybercrime
Published: 2008-09-22

The Department of Justice released data from its 2005 National Computer Security Survey last week, finding that two-thirds of firms detected at least one cybercrime during that year.

More than 7,800 companies responded to the survey (pdf), which classified cybercrime into cyber attacks, cyber theft, and other incidents. The survey found that three-quarters of cyber attacks came from external sources, while insiders accounted for the same proportion of cyber thefts. More than half of companies reported a cyber theft to law-enforcement authorities, but only 6 percent of cyber attacks were reported. Computer viruses made up more than half of all cyber attacks.

"A nationally representative sample of 35,600 businesses representing 36 economic sectors received the survey," the DOJ said in a statement summarizing the survey. "Twenty-three percent of the selected businesses responded. Though the responses are not nationally representative, the NCSS is the largest survey conducted to date. Detailed findings for each of the 36 sectors are provided in this report."

The survey, which was developed by the DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, found that telecommunications companies and computer-system design businesses were hardest hit by cybercrime. About 90 percent of businesses that suffered an incident sustained monetary loss, and cyber theft accounted for half of the loss, according to the summary.

Some surveys of companies have found that damages due to cybercrime have fallen. In 2006, the Computer Security Institute released their annual survey finding that corporate losses due to cybersecurity incidents had fallen for the fifth straight year. Critics questioned, however, whether the survey had enough data to make that conclusion. Last year, a survey of identity-theft prosecutions found that the suspected thieves were often first-time offenders and did not know their victims.

In the recently-released NCSS, about two-thirds of all victims lost $10,000 or more.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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