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Cybercrime is a global phenomenon with an economic impact that can be staggering. A single attack can cost businesses millions of pounds in lost revenue and the costs incurred to keep operations running normally. In addition, the damage to investor perception after a data breach can increase borrowing costs and make it difficult for a company to raise additional capital.

While many cyberattacks are aimed at financial gain, others serve other, more personal purposes. At one end of the spectrum, cybercriminals can hack into computer systems and steal personal information for profit or to use in identity theft. Others can infect computers with ransomware to encrypt valuable data and demand payment for its return. Some cybercriminals also use computers to commit fraud and money laundering, trafficking in child pornography or other illicit material.

At the other end of the spectrum are attacks intended to disrupt the Internet, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that can shut down websites or block access to them. Other cyberattacks include attacks on the Internet of Things, where connected IoT devices such as refrigerators, light bulbs and even baby monitors can be used to launch an attack.

Cybercrimes can be committed by individuals with very little technical skill who take advantage of tools on the market, or they can be carried out by highly organized criminal groups operating internationally. Because of the Internet’s speed, convenience and anonymity, these crimes can cross national borders in seconds. This can be a challenge for law enforcement, especially if they don’t have the right partnerships in place with other countries that have agreed to share intelligence and investigations.