Cyber is the New Orange

By Phil Reitinger

Chris Painter, the former Cyber Coordinator for the U.S. State Department, likes to say that “Cyber is the new black.”  Well said.  These days “cyber” is added to the front of more words than I knew existed, and everybody wants to be doing something “cyber.”  That’s mostly good I think – energy, commitment, and innovation will always be in high demand, and I’ll live with cyber-proactivity to get it.

Today I’ve been thinking about a slightly different analogy – Cyber is the New Orange.  “Orange” in the sense that (in the U.S.) prison jumpsuits are often orange, and cybercrime is now so commonplace, it dominates cyber as a whole.  The statistics are frightening.

Online fraud is now the most common crime in England and Wales, and about five-and-a-half million cyber offenses take place there each year, about half of all crime.

One analyst firm predicted that cybercrime will cost the global economy $2.1 trillion by 2019.

And my own, tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek “research” indicated that the compound annual growth rate for cybercrime is about 120%, and that at that rate the entire global economy will be consumed by cybercrime in only 2025.

In short, an amoral person who wanted to make money could turn to cybercrime as a rational economic decision.  If you doubt that, try to calculate the risk of getting caught from the number of convictions and number of likely attackers.  I don’t have that kind of time, or access to the data, but one commentator has said the odds of getting caught are 1 in 10,000 at most, and even if caught the risk of prosecution is low.

So cyber is the new orange.  Cybercrime is everywhere.  Cybercrime pays.  And with the market ecosystem for cyber attacks, you can even hire others to do it for you.

I’ve said it before.  You have said it before.  This is not sustainable.  Cybercrime already has significant adverse effects on people’s lives.  It already or will soon have significant effects on national economies.  People cannot be given the Hobson’s choice of participating in an increasingly dangerous online environment, or becoming modern day Luddites.

Something has to change.  That’s why our founders – the Manhattan District Attorney, the City of London Police, and the Center for Internet Security – created the Global Cyber Alliance.  GCA is now two-years old, and its strategy of actually implementing concrete solutions to cyber risk is proving itself.  We built a web-wizard and produced training materials to help people deploy DMARC, and after using our tools, about 1,800 have.  With our partner, we built a global infrastructure to filter threats using DNS.

We plan to continue taking on new projects to reduce cyber risk, benefiting us all far more than they cost.  Join us. All we ask is that you contribute in the best way you can – by testing our services, providing expertise, raising awareness of GCA and its resources, or contributing financially or in-kind to support GCA operations.  You can make a difference.

The author, Phil Reitinger, is the President and CEO of the Global Cyber Alliance. You can follow him on Twitter @CarpeDiemCyber.