The global economy could be losing as much as US$500 billion (AU$545 billion) a year through cybercrime.
This is according to a new study sponsored by McAfee, with the company stating it is a world first in terms of quantifying the real economic impact of malicious attacks online.
Based on a model put together by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the results revealed cybercrime was responsible for between $100 billion and $500 billion being drained from international economies.
This included the loss of intellectual property, reputational damage, the price of secure networks and insurance, and opportunity costs relating to service disruptions.
Mike Fey, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at McAfee, said the report is the only one of its kind to use established economic modeling techniques.
"Other estimates have been bandied about for years, but no one has put any rigor behind the effort," he explained.
"As policymakers, business leaders and others struggle to get their arms around why cyber security matters, they need solid information on which to base their actions."
The report also highlighted the effect cybercrime has on employment, estimating that as many as 508,000 US jobs are lost annually through malicious cyber activity.