In the wake of the latest high-profile hack of Sony and claims of “cyber vandalism” being thrown about, it’s normal to feel a sense of unease. Just this week, yet another proposal for new cybersecurity legislation has been made, and by the president no less.

Yes, cybercrime is rising and does result in losses. However, successfully committing cyber crime isn’t as easy as one might think.

The direct losses from data stolen through hacking, online card fraud and online scams are actually relatively low when compared with the direct losses from welfare fraud or tax evasion.

Moreover, current federal spending on cybersecurity dwarfs the losses suffered by victims of online scams, fraud and other crimes, by at least three or four times. And yet we have very little idea how this money is being spent, so it’s hard to judge how effective it is.

As we ponder how much to spend and what to do about so-called cyber vandalism and cyber warfare, we need to keep these figures in mind. It’s usually the most low-tech, low-cost and simplest remedies that are actually the most effective in deterring crime online.

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