When you look at the linked articles below, I’m sure many of you will be thinking that this is an odd choice for an economics blog! However, part of the economic relevance of ‘cyber-crime fighters’ relates to the relative skills of workers and the gap that exists between the most and least skilled workers in the UK.
Crime has always existed, but as technology has developed the types of crime committed have grown along with the complexity of them. For certain crimes, a very skilled individual is needed. With this emergence of technologically advanced crimes, those fighting crimes have also had to improve their skills and techniques. Thus crime-fighters have become more technologically advanced as well.
The problem is that the number of skilled workers able to deal with things like cyber crime has not kept pace with the demand for them and thus we have a skills gap. Usage of the Internet has continued to grow, creating more and more opportunities for cyber crime. However, the UK supply of IT and cyber-security professionals has not been able to keep pace. Therefore, we have a shortage of skilled labour in this area.
More investment into research and education is occurring, with the aim of addressing this shortage, but it is expected to take many years before supply catches up to demand. In particular, more investment is needed in the sciences and technology subjects at school to create the supply at university level. The NAO said that:
‘The current pipeline of graduates and practitioners are unable to meet demand.’
A second area of relevance to economics is the cost of cyber crime. The NAO estimated that the cost is somewhere between £18bn and £27bn per annum. However, on the other side, is there a case that crime actually benefits the macroeconomy by requiring government investment. As cyber crime has grown, so has the demand for cyber-crime fighters and this has created more jobs. With more jobs comes increased spending and the benefits of the multiplier. The following articles consider cyber crime and the impact it is having.
National Audit Office warns UK needs more skilled cyber crime fighters BBC News (12/2/13)
IT staff shortages raise cyber crime risk Sky News (12/2/13)
UK planning ‘Cyber Reserve’ defence force BBC News (3/12/12)
Britain vulnerable from cyber attacks for at least 20 years The Telegraph, Tom Whitehead (12/2/13)
Britain targeted by 120,000 every DAY with cost to country thought to total £27billion Mail Online, Jack Doyle (12/2/13)
- Illustrate the demand for and supply of labour curves in the market for cyber crime fighters. How is the equilibrium wage determined?
- If there is increased investment in education, how would this affect the shape and position of the MRP curve and what impact would this have on your diagram?
- If there is a shortage of cyber crime fighters, what does that suggest about the position of the two curves? Illustrate this situation and explain why it is a problem.
- Which factors would be considered by NAO in estimating the costs of cyber crime?
- Explain why crime can pay.
- How does the macroeconomy benefit from increased crime? Illustrate this on a diagram.
- Does your answer to question 5 above suggest anything about the effectiveness of using GDP as a measure of welfare?
- How is the multiplier effect relevant?