Internet-enabled crime was responsible for $2.7 billion in losses in 2018, according to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report. The data confirms industry concerns about growing cybersecurity threats.
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported an increase in the number of complaints from 301,580 in 2017 to 351,000 in 2018, or more than 900 per day. Total losses associated with these complaints was $2.7 billion, or a 90 percent increase over 2017.
The report found that the “most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and investment scams, which can include Ponzi and pyramid schemes.” The FBI totaled 1.5 million complaints and $7.45 billion in losses from 2014 to 2018.
Since the FBI’s IC3 cybercrime data is based on information the public reports to law enforcement, it represents just a fraction of the cyber-crime problem. In 2018, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that cyber crime cost the U.S. economy “$57 billion and $109 billion in 2016.”
The FBI’s new report and the White House’s 2018 estimate highlight the serious challenges we face. Given recent trends, we should expect more complaints and losses next year absent a significant change in national policy. Confronting the growing cybersecurity threat requires additional resources for federal law enforcement and a functional international legal structure.