Cybercrime in the US 2011-2018: An ever-increasing threat
Updated: May 23
Cybercrime is a threat which is fast becoming one of the most prevalent and costly crime categories across the US. A study by the University of Maryland in 2007 showed that computers experience a hacking attempt every 39 seconds.
Given that this statistic comes from a study conducted over 10 years ago, it’s highly likely that the automated hacking attempts described by the University are being deployed even more regularly today, with no doubt more sophistication. With 291 million internet users in the US, this could be as many as 11.3 billion hacking attempts every second.
The IC3, America’s cybercrime reporting office, observes that there were 351,937 cybercrimes reported in 2018. However, IC3 Director Donna Gregory also went on record in 2016 to say that these figures potentially represent just 10-12% of all cybercrimes that happen in the US.
For 2018 figures, this could mean a total of 3,519,370 crimes involving a computer went unreported, incurring untold monetary losses and emotional damage.
Additionally, according to antivirus software company Norton, nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft and 16.7 million individuals experienced identity fraud in 2017 alone. Losses for this type of cybercrime total $15 million, showing the devastating power of cyber criminals in the modern age.
1. The total cost of cybercrime has increased by over 500% since 2011 According to the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center), the total cost of cybercrime went from $375,997,429 in 2011 to $2,407,762,243 in 2018 for an almost 650% increase. Internet adoption has risen from 79% in 2011 to 89% in 2018 and there has been an estimated population increase of nearly 20 million for a total of 291 million internet users in the US today.
A 10% increase in users is likely to drive up the number of cybercrimes committed, but a cost increase of 540% over 7 years shows that the value of cybercrimes are rising at an extraordinary level.
2. Racing bar chart: Total cost of cybercrime in each state 2011-2018
California leading the way every year is no surprise, considering it’s not only the state with the most inhabitants but also the home of Silicon Valley, the US’s leading tech hub. The real race happens below the four major states, and one notable appearance comes from North Carolina between 2017 and 2018. The state has raced from below position 15 to 6th place in the past year, which could be attributed to the Research Triangle Park but also the presence of major gaming software developers such as the creators of Fortnite, Epic Games.
4. Most increased/reduced cybercrimes since 2015 Cybercrimes like extortion, data breaches and the IC3’s category of ‘No Lead Value’, which is used when another category can’t be determined, have seen major growth since 2015 and other common cybercrimes such as phishing and romance fraud have steadily increased too.
On the other hand, crimes such as credit card fraud and identity theft have seen reductions in the past few years, which could be down to raised awareness and a better understanding of how criminals operate.
5. The five states with losses below $1m in 2011 all have losses over $1m in 2018 When the IC3 began reporting cost data broken down by state in 2011, the five states with the lowest losses to cybercrime all had total figures below $1 million. South Dakota recorded the lowest loss at $498,387.
However, in the 2018 report, each of these states has observed losses way over $1 million as cybercriminals continue to take more and more money through malicious activity.
6. The IC3 has recorded 4,415,870 complaints since its inception Since its creation in 2000, the IC3 has recorded 4,415,870 cybercrime complaints. The 2018 estimate is that 900 reports are received each day and approximately 300,000 are received each year on average.
The actual figure for number of complaints reported in 2018 is 351,937. This marks a 16% increase since 2017. This is double that of the 8% increase between 2017 and 2016, showing that cybercrime reporting is rapidly increasing.
7. Monetary losses to cybercrime in the US have almost doubled since 2017
The IC3 reports show that the cost of cybercrime is rising each year. However, between 2017 and 2018, this yearly figure increased by almost double from $1.4bn to $2.7bn. Across pretty much every metric, cybercrime is becoming much more of a threat as time goes on.
8. Social media crimes are up 200% since their introduction to IC3 reports in 2015
In 2015, the IC3 began recording not only the type of crime being reported but also the sub-descriptors of virtual currency and social media to clarify the crime. In 2015, the number of crimes attributed to social media stood at 19,967. By 2018, the number of social media crimes is twice as high, with 40,198 victims claiming social media was used to facilitate the crime.
9. Graph: cybercrimes reported by age 2015-2018
This graph shows that those aged 29 and under report the least cybercrimes, which is likely due to a weighted response from business owners in the 30-59 bracket. However, the most interesting element of this graph is the rapid rise in threat to Americans 60 and over. This is likely as a result of more elderly people accessing the internet without proper cyber awareness but if the stats continue to rise could mean serious trouble for the older generation in the future.
All data in this article is derived from IC3 reports dating from 2011-2018 unless stated otherwise.