Intel’s McAfee Division Alleged to Have Grossly Exaggerated ‘Trillion-Dollar’ Global Cost of Hacking

Well now, this is awkward. You may recall a study conducted by McAfee a few years back in which it was revealed that businesses were at risk of losing over $1 trillion from "loss or theft of data and other cybercrime." That figure has been cited on more than one occasion by top government officials, including President Barack Obama, but it turns out the the financial impact of hacking may have been grossly exaggerated.

In a report scheduled to be released on Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), McAfee admits that its previous figure might be three times the actual impact, Reuters reports. What's unfortunate is that the original study from 2009 has been used by members of Congress to push through costly legislation related to cyber security.

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"This study here is newer, it's based on extra rigorous work, and once it's made public, this is clearly the one we're going to focus on," Tom Gann, McAfee Vice President of Government Relations, told Reuters.

In McAfee's defense, it's not easy extrapolating this kind of data. Even still, CSIS says the U.S. might lose as little as $20 billion to $25 billion per year due to cyber crime, or as much as $140 billion. Globally, the number rises to $300 billion to $400 billion, all of which are way below McAfee's original estimate.