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McAfee says sorry for making up cybercrime figures

A trillion dollars was over egging the pudding

A senior executive at Intel’s security subsidiary McAfee has admitted that his outfit might have made up a crucial figure when it came to cyber-crime. Global chief technology officer Mike Fey told The Australian Financial Review that he regretted McAfee once claimed that global losses from cybercrime at more than $US1 trillion. He said that even the more conservative estimates are a little hard to swallow.

Fey said he wished he had never put a dollar figure on it as it is “very scary” to just latch onto the number. The report from McAfee in 2009 estimated the cost of cybercrime at $US1 trillion, a figure which has been used by politicians and bureaucrats including US President Barack Obama and National Security Agency director Keith Alexander to justify law changes or significant increases in cyber-security spending.

A more recent report commissioned by the security company, and released last month, reduced those estimates to as low as $US300 billion globally, but specifically noted the difficulty of determining exactly how much companies, governments and individuals could lose if subject to an attack.

“When you meet an engineer that has spent a good chunk of his life working on some innovation and it’s stolen overnight, you get a good feeling for what IP loss means," Fey said. “It is the shift in a moment’s instance from an innovative company set strategically, to loss. It becomes difficult for that company to invest in innovation.”

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