On July 25th, U.S. authorities indicted six men for hacking into a dozen American companies.  Their criminal endeavours had been wildly successful, reportedly netting 160 million credit cards and $300 million in illicit profits.  One of the perpetrators was also charged with hacking into the NASDAQ stock exchange, though there was no indication that any damage was done.

In an era of falling crime rates in developed nations like the U.K., cybercrime (particularly fraud) is one of the few forms of crime that is increasing.  While the magnitude of cybercrime is extremely opaque, estimates have placed the cost of cybercrime at “between 0.05% and 1% of national income.”  One report, undertaken by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, found that cybercrime and cyber espionage cost the global economy between $100-$500 billion per year.

The range of threats is also growing, morphing into “advanced persistent threats.” The attack on the NASDAQ exchange is an example of such a threat, dangerous not only due to the possibility of financial theft, but also given the ability of the attacks to disrupt and destabilize key elements of the financial system. Such attacks are becoming more common, as an IOSCO report on cybercrime and the securities market noted, with 53% of securities exchanges noted that they were victimized in the last year.

The virtual nature of attacks, and what is stolen, enable cybercriminals to operate transnationally. All of the six suspects indicted on July 25th were foreign nationals, staging their attacks on U.S. institutions from abroad. In order to assist in addressing this transnational threat, the Global Initiative will work towards establishing a global network of officials tasked with countering cybercrime as well as private sector specialists who have an interest in this. 


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