Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The cost of phishing rises

Gartner reports that the cost of phishing rose to 3.2 Billion in 2007.

As always I am somewhat skeptical of the absolute level, what is more interesting is the trend. The cost of phishing might be half as much or twice as large, it is very hard to eliminate systematic errors from such studies but it certainly appears to be the right order of magnitude.

Gartner's Press release states that the cost of phishing has 'soared' but do not give the 2006 figure. That made me suspicious so I dug out the 2006 release which puts the sum at $2.8 billion. That is very interesting as it tells us that even though the cost is rising it is rising less slowly than it has in the past.

The trend is again up but the average loss per incident has declined to $886 from $1,244 in 2006. One possible explanation is that the criminals are trying to fly under the radar and steal smaller amounts that are less likely to attract attention. Another is that consumers are more alert to the risk of Internet crime and are spotting more thefts.

The reason the total is up is because the number of people affected has risen. So Internet crime is not running out of control but it is affecting more people.

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