Security firm Symantec has put the cost of cyber crime to the world's economy at $388bn annually, a figure that is $100bn greater than the combined global market for marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
The Norton Cybercrime Report 2011 said that the figures are based on information and estimates from 12,000 victims of cyber crime in 24 countries, split between $114bn in lost finances and $274bn in the time victims take to deal with the after effects of being targeted by criminals.
The report also found that two thirds of online adults have been a victim of cyber crime, and that 14 internet users become a victim every second, equating to a million incidents every day.
The most common form of cyber crime is viruses and malware, accounting for 54 per cent of all attacks, while the most likely victims are men between 18 and 31 as they spend more time online and view more adult content, according to the report.
Symantec also highlighted growing levels of mobile cyber crime. Around 10 per cent of internet users have been targeted via a mobile device as criminals look to exploit vulnerabilities in burgeoning mobile operating systems.
Adam Palmer, lead cyber security advisor at Norton, told V3 that the figures are "shocking" and underline the battle facing law enforcement agencies and security firms.
"There are highly organised criminal gangs across the world that exploit internet users and make huge sums of money. It's very good business for them, but that's very bad news for online users," he said.
"International co-operation is vital to help combat this, but the difficulty is often that, even if you can identify the computer from where the attacks originated, getting hold of the person who carried out the attacks is much harder."
Another difficulty facing those fighting online crime is that criminals react to new technologies and the opportunities they offer much more quickly than law enforcement agencies.
"Criminals can change at the speed of light, but the law reacts at the speed of the law," said Palmer.
A report published in February by consultancy firm Detica and the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance found that cyber crime costs the UK an estimated £27bn a year, and that businesses are hit hardest owing to high levels of intellectual property theft and industrial espionage.
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