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Study: Cybercrime cost firms $1 trillion globally

In a McAfee survey, chief information officers report spending billions of dollars after data thefts and say fired workers pose a big threat to sensitive data on the network.

Data theft and breaches from cybercrime may have cost businesses as much as $1 trillion globally in lost intellectual property and expenditures for repairing the damage last year, according to a new study from McAfee.

McAfee made the projection based on responses to a survey of more than 800 chief information officers in the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China, India, Brazil, and Dubai.

The respondents estimated that they lost data worth a total of $4.6 billion and spent about $600 million cleaning up after breaches, McAfee said.

The report, entitled "Unsecured Economies: Protecting Vital Information" is due to be released Thursday at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It also finds that developing countries spend more money on protecting intellectual property than companies in Western countries.

The ongoing recession is only increasing the security risk for corporations, respondents said, with 42 percent reporting that displaced workers were the biggest threat to sensitive information on the network.

There were some other interesting geographical-related results. More than one quarter of the respondents said they avoid storing data in China, and 47 percent of the Chinese respondents said they believed the U.S. poses the biggest security threat to their data.