Over the last couple of weeks you may have spotted some news stories floating about claiming cybercrime costs society US$388bn annually, with Australia alone suffering A$4.6bn in yearly losses.
If the numbers are to be believed, these reports say, that means cybercrime costs us nearly as much as the global trade in illicit drugs. It's a sensational claim and makes an awesome headline, but any way you slice or dice the numbers they just simply don't stack up.
What's more frustrating is the most cursory analysis of these figures is enough to show they're fanciful. Yet lazy media outlets, spurred on by reports carried by the sycophantic technology media, happily parroted these claims as fact without doing the most basic checking.
Institutional fraud measurements here in Australia blow the claimed numbers out of the water immediately. Direct losses from all personal fraud in Australia, online and offline, is estimated at A$1bn a year. So where did the claim involving a A$4.6bn annual impact come from?
The numbers were dug out of a survey report released by Norton, the consumer division of Symantec, a company that makes computer security software.