No shotguns, no car chases, no gun battles, no Mission Impossible type break in tools and no Italian Job style one liners. Just some geeks with keyboards marshalling their electrons to grab data, but the cost of cybercrime is thought to be huge.

The information experts Detica and the Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance (OCSIA) within the UK Cabinet Office have put together a report called 'The Cost Of Cyber Crime'. The report defines cyber crime as ' … the illegal activities undertaken by criminals for financial gain. Such activities exploit vulnerabilities in the use of the internet and other electronic systems to illicitly access or attack information and services used by citizens, business and the Government'.

The report says that the total cost could be in the region of £27 billion a year. That's the equivalent of 2% of UK GDP. This is made up of £21 billion in business, £2.2 billion in government and £3.1 billion taken from people. Although saying that their figures are only estimates they say that the true amount lost may actually be far higher.

The reasons for the uncertainty is that many companies may not be admitting to the losses of information and intellectual property due to fears that their brands may be effected by it. Therefore deciding to accept the cost and stay quiet.

The measures to take against this huge threat to our economy are from getting the government to engage with large strategic companies to promote awareness right down to individuals protecting their data and using firewalls and anti-virus software when on-line.

One of the problems of combating cyber crime is highlighted at That is the difficulty of tracking the perpetrators down in the first place, let alone reaching across national boundaries to punish them. Hence the 'fortress' approach. We know the bad guys are outside shooting at us but as long as we keep rebuilding our defences they can hammer away all they like. But that does nothing to deter the hammering.

The anti-virus software company Norton are launching a new product called the 'Norton Cybercrime Index', which tracks and warns computer users about daily cyber crime risks across the globe. Expect others to quickly follow suit as there's a lot of money going to be made in anti-cyber crime protection measures.

Now, the first thing we should do of course is decide whether it is 'cyber crime', 'cyber-crime' or 'cybercrime'. As all three are in use across the 'net and we wouldn't want to confuse anyone would we? There, I've just given another government committee six months of existence justifying work.

And now the immortal words you've all been waiting for.

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