Cyberattacks are now the fastest-growing crime in the world, and are expected to cost the global economy $6tn a year by 2021, according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures.

This is equivalent to the annual GDP of both India and the UK in 2019 combined, making it a serious concern for businesses and governments alike.

It also represents a doubling of the costs associated with cyberattacks within just a short space of time – in 2015, cyberattack costs were just $3tn.

Detailed in the Official 2019 Annual Cybercrime Report, released today by Cybersecurity Ventures, it indicates that cybercrime will within a few years be more profitable that the entire global drugs trade.

Growth in cyberattack costs fuelled by lack of organisational preparedness

Over the next few years, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts cyberattack costs will grow by 12-15% year-on-year.

During this time, the organisation expects attacks to increase in size, cost and sophistication.

“Cybercrime costs include damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems and reputational harm,” said Steve Morgan, founder and editor-in-chief at Cybersecurity Ventures.

Notably, the lack of preparedness among businesses will also help to grow the cost of cyberattacks.

“This dramatic rise (in damage costs) only reinforces the sharp increase in the number of organisations unprepared for a cyberattack,” explained Robert Herjavec, Founder and CEO of global Managed Security Services Provider Herjavec Group and leading investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Meanwhile, the already severe cybersecurity skills shortage is set to rise further. While in 2014 there were 1 million open positions in the cybersecurity industry, by 2021 this will surge to 3.5 million, with the cybersecurity unemployment rate remaining at 0%.