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U.S. cybercrime surging, annual losses hit $4.2 billion in 2020

Courtesy of Brett Sayles

Americans are losing billions due to internet crime each year. However, 2020 was a record year for the number of cybercrime victims and the combined financial losses caused by these malicious attacks.

According to data presented by, the total annual loss from cybercrime in the United States hit $4.2 billion in 2020, a 55% increase in two years.

Business email compromise schemes caused 40% of total cybercrime losses

Cybercrime costs include damage and destruction of data; stolen money; theft of intellectual property and personal and financial data; post-attack disruption to the normal course of business; restoration of hacked data and systems; and reputational harm.

In 2005, the combined financial loss caused by cyberattacks and fraud amounted to $183.1 million, according to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report. By the end of 2011, this figure soared by 165% to $485 million, and it has continued to rise.

In 2015, the total financial damage caused by cybercrimes in the U.S. hit $1 billion for the first time, but that was just the start of its massive growth. By 2019, this figure tripled and hit $3.5 billion. Last year, almost 792,000 complaints were logged by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), with total losses jumping by 20% year-over-year to $4.2 billion.

Statistics show phishing attacks, nonpayment scams and extortion were the most frequent internet crimes in the U.S. However, business email compromise schemes were the costliest cybercrimes, causing $1.8 billion, or 42% of total losses last year.

The IC3 report also showed a number of cyber schemes exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic, with individuals and businesses targeted. There were more than 28,500 received complaints related to COVID-19 scams, and most were aimed at the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Many Americans were also scammed to provide personal information in exchange for vaccination appointments.

Cyberterrorism the biggest potential threat to the U.S.

The U.S. has coped with a long list of threats from geopolitical tensions with China and Russia to international terrorism and the spread of infectious diseases. Ultimately, the COVID-19 outbreak emerged as one of the most serious threats our country has ever faced.

Despite that, the pandemic is not viewed as the biggest threat to the U.S. by the public. According to a Gallup survey, cyberterrorism is viewed as the top threat by Americans. More than 80% of respondents named it the most critical threat the country will face over the next decade.

The development of nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran ranked second and third on the threat list, while international terrorism and infectious diseases were tied in fourth place.

– Edited from a StockApps press release by CFE Media.


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