Cyber security set to become $1 trillion market

government cyber security budgets

The cyber security market is forecast to reach $1 trillion over the next few years, according to a quarterly report published by Cybersecurity Ventures

The research company further claims that cyber crime will cost the world $6 trillion a year by 2021.

Steve Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures, says the increase is due to increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks launching at businesses, governments, educational institutions, and consumers globally.

“We anticipate 12-15 percent year-over-year growth through 2021, compared to the 8-10 percent projected over the next five years by several industry analysts,” says Morgan.

“This is a sign of the times and there’s no end in sight. Incremental increases in cybersecurity spending are not enough. We expect businesses of all sizes and types, and governments globally, to double down on cyber protection,” he adds.

Former US President Barack Obama increased the amount the US spent on cyber security budget from $14 billion in 2016 to $19 billion this year. And many governments have followed suit by increasing their cyber security budgets.

The UK announced and re-announced an increased cyber crime budget of $1.9 billion, with Chancellor Philip Hammond recently saying: “Our new strategy, underpinned by £1.9 billion of support over five years and excellent partnerships with industry and academia, will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyber space and to strike back when we are attacked.”

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Russia – which the UK defence minister Peter Fallon strongly criticised the other day for “weaponising misinformation” in a new “post-truth age” of cyber warfare – is estimated to spend “£250 million a year employing 1,000 state-sponsored hackers to spy on and attack the West’s computer networks”, according to the Sun.

Not known for political correctness, or just correctness, the Sun called the alleged state-sponsored Russian group “Vlad’s hacker army”, and quoting Kommersant, claimed that “Vladimir Putin’s devastating cyber war is said to be targeting more than 100 countries”.

Russian spies have been the subject of much speculation and accusation in recent months as a result of US intelligence agencies’ allegations that Putin ordered the hacking of the US elections to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and put Republican Donald Trump in the White House.

It has been pointed out by various commentators that no one knows what “hacking the US presidential elections” actually means exactly, but in a joint report, the CIA, NSA and other spy organisations said that Putin himself ordered an “influence campaign”, another dubious phrase no one knows the meaning of.

That is not to say that hackers, cyber espionage and its associated risks and dangers do not exist. Otherwise, governments around would not be spending tens of billions in the area.

According to Kommersant, the top five countries in the world in terms of cyber espionage budgets and activity are:

  • US
  • Russia
  • China
  • Britain; and
  • South Korea.

Of the list above, China is perhaps of most concern, despite the archetypal Russian spy stories making the headlines in recent weeks.

Hackers based in communist China are said to have been behind some of the biggest cyber attacks in recent years.

In the latest story, reported in ProofPoint, Chinese hackers are said to be taking a break from targeting the US, and turning their attention to Russia and Belarus instead.

ProofPoint suggests that evidence has emerged that the attack was what is known as an advanced persistent threat, one where a virus or malware or hacker has entered the system but has gone undetected for many weeks or months, or even longer.

The attacks on the US originating in China are said to have decreased since the two countries signed the US-China Cyber Agreement in 2016.

Not much is known about the Chinese government’s budgets for cyber espionage, but Time quotes a Pentagon official who said that “Chinese computer spies raided the databanks of almost every major US defense contractor and made off with some of the country’s most closely guarded technological secrets”.

“That would be really impressive if it wasn’t so terrifying,” adds Time.

Even less is known about South Korea, but given its strategic importance to the three great powers of the day – the US, Russia and China – and its advanced industrial technology, the country is probably roaming around the cyber territories of various countries around the world.

But South Korea’s main concern is likely to be its immediate neighbour, the nuclear-armed hermit kingdom of North Korea, which is said to have launched 114,000 cyber attacks in five years against its southern namesake, according to CNet.