A new study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, with help from McAfee, has revealed the cost of cybercrime on the United States economy: as much as $140 billion and half a million jobs each year. Or at least "that's our best guess", according to James Andrew Lewis, director of technology and public policy at the center.

Rather than relying on inaccurate surveys of companies to come up with the figure, the center relied on models that are also used for estimating the economic effects of car crashes and ocean piracy. Four years ago a survey-based study estimated that cybercrime contributed to $1 trillion of annual losses in the US economy, however many criticized the figure for being far too high; McAfee claims that the new study significantly refines this figure.

The report looked at a range of different forms of cybercrime, including phishing and text messaging scams, loss of sensitive business information, intellectual property theft, damage to reputation, service disruptions and security costs. The center was still looking into the effect of cybercrime on innovation, and suggests a follow-up to this report may include a larger figure once this is factored in.

A press conference on Monday featured McAfee vice president Phyllis Schneck, who claimed the "sharper, accurate" estimate would help executives at other companies assess the importance of investments related to cybersecurity. She also said the overall issue of cybercrime and its effects go "much, much deeper", and that one day she hopes that not as much money will need to be spent to curb the effects of cybercrime.