back to article Cybercrime figures 'as true as sexual-conquest scores'

Microsoft researchers have rubbished figures from cyber-crime surveys, deeming them subject to the types of distortions that have long bedevilled sex surveys. It's well enough established that men claim to have more female sexual partners in sex surveys than women claim male partners, a discrepancy that can't be explained by …


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  1. poohbear

    $x =~ s/crime/piracy/g;

    See the magnificent subject line ...

  2. Dave Murray Silver badge

    Well duh

    I've always said these figures were complete bull. A few company desktops get infected with a virus and suddenly they lose £££millions? Yeah right. More like some poor low level IT bod lost a day rebuilding them so at most the company lost one day's salary for a not very well paid employee.

    But that doesn't sell many expensive firewalls, anti virus, intrusion detection, etc, etc, etc.

    1. Vic

      Re: Well duh

      > A few company desktops get infected with a virus and suddenly they lose £££millions?

      The problem is that a few desktops get infected, and a PHB suddenly has to find ££millions in his budget to upgrade his defences. He sees that as said infection costing him that much.

      In truth, all the infection has done is to identify a pre-existing weakness; the extra cost is what he should have already spent[1] if he'd been doing his job properly in the first place.

      But it seems that, in these modern times, prevention is never better than cure :-(


      [1] The clean-up cost is extra, of course - that's the real cost of the infection, and it's rarely significant compared to the re-work to harden insecure systems somewhat.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Also costs

        I remember a certain code red worm incident (or that didn't happen? It was just a boast that someone wrote a worm?)

        For the best part of 2 days, everything stopped. The call centre staff couldn't do anything, the R&D people couldn't do anything, even the flower arrangers with their MACs couldn't do anything because BoFH turned off all the switches to stop everything re-infecting everything else! (First try BoFH disinfected everything and updated virus definitions 1 machine at a time, however didn't apply the 2 year old MS patch that stops it infecting things, turned on all the switches and then everything was instantly infected again!)

        The company effectively paid 3000 people to do nothing for 2 days, plus they then spent the next day or 2 sorting out where they were or talking at the coffee machine how it happened. I don't know how much BoFH was paid, but they saved his wages about a month later :)

        1. 124Out


          So, one virus 10 years ago cost the company your worked for 2 days worth of work. How do we get from that to trillion dollar estimates exactly?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          and if

          And if the company had any sense they'd have written enforced annual leave into the contract in case of disasters. So yes they'd have lost 4 days work but then again it was annual leave, there's still the massive problem of lost revenue but them's the breaks.

  3. Richard 120


    Fuck off, it's estimates or guesses

    1. AlexH
      Paris Hilton

      Anger management

      Calm down, anger management boy. I've always been fond of 'guesstimate' but didn't realise it was making its way towards 'proper word' status until I noticed the other day the spellchecker happily accepts it.

      Furthermore, 'guesstimate' arguably conveys more information than either of your 'acceptable' choices...

      1. Richard 120

        Guesstimate pisses me off, it's pointless and adds nothing.

        How does it possibly convey more information than either of the two choices. If anything it confuses the matter.

        An estimate is an approximation based on intuition & known facts.

        A guess is an approximation based on intuition.

        WTF is a guesstimate if it is not one of these two definitions?

        It's another pointless word like chillax.

        It pisses me off as much as people using "rouge" when they mean "rogue" or "loose" when they mean "lose".

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Guesstimate >(uncertainty) estimate. Concise.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Just ...

          ... chillax dude.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      @Richard 120

      If you pick up your newest copy of the Oxford English Dictionary you will quite happily find guesstimate enshrined within. It was first used in the 30s by American Statisticians and has since made it into most dictionary corpuses (or corpora if you prefer the Latin ending - both being valid in English).

      If you want to be an English language Nazi, I strongly suggest you buy yourself a copy of a reputable dictionary first.

      1. Richard 120


        I don't care if it's in the dictionary, chillax is in the dictionary that's equally fucking pointless.

        If a company tells you something is right does that automatically make it so?

        So an uncertain estimate is a guesstimate then, or a guess perhaps?

        At what point and how do you quantify the certainty required for a guess to become a guesstimate and from there how much more certainty is required to make it an estimate?

        It's a pointless word that does nothing to improve understanding.

        1. teebie

          It has a different meaning

          A guess is some numbers that you pulled out of your ass, an estimate is a figure calculated on figures you expect (but aren't certain) to be roughly correct, a guesstimate is somewhere in between.

        2. Steven Roper

          Richard 120

          >"I don't care if it's in the dictionary..."

          By that statement you completely invalidate your entire argument. What you're saying amounts to "English is what I say it is and nobody can gainsay me, not even the OED". Well, this may come as a small surprise to you mate, but the vast majority of English speakers on this planet will tend go by what the OED (or Marriam-Webster for 'merkins) says rather than Richard 120.

          I suggest you return to your dictionary and look up the word "portmanteau". Then have a think about where a substantial number of the words in the English language come from. Consider what Shakespeare might have made of words like "computer", "internet", "email" and "telephone". If you study the history of any language that is not a conlang, you'll see that it is continuously evolving as cultures, technologies and social mores change. English perhaps more so than most, on account of its being spoken by the widest variety of countries and cultures. Words like "chillax" and "guesstimate" that seem so ridiculous to you now will, to people years hence, be as much part of the language as words like "computer" and "internet" are to us.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Snerdheim's Glossary of mendacious terms...

            ... defines guesstimate as:

            "A grossly inflated and entirely imaginary number concocted by the CBI to describe improbable economic damage to the British economy (the bit of it owned by their members) caused by anything the CBI think ought to irritate them. Previous uses have included (with figures)

            - Workers breathing on company time (£165m per day)

            - Consumers demanding goods in return for money paid (£200m per hour)

            - Workers failing to turn up 3 hours early or leave 10 hours late (£2bn PA)

            - A lack of nuclear power stations (£TBC)

            - Laws (£500bn PA)

            - Premature migration of African swallows bearing coconuts (£9.67 ex VAT)

            See also: Conservative & Unionist Party, House of Lords, Gentlemans club, kleptocracy"

  4. The Beer Monster

    I've never gone to bed...

    ...with an ugly cybercriminal, but by god I've woken up next to a few.

  5. 124Out
    Thumb Up


    I've always wondered where these estimates come from.What's going on is even worse than I imagined. One exaggerated response is all it takes to make the numbers rubbish.

    The fact that estimates are usually put out by vendors and fudsters should have been a clue I guess.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "One exaggerated response is all it takes to make the numbers rubbish."

      Well no, not if the results are analysed properly. If one estimate of cost was £1Million but the average was £5k then you could probably disregard that number. The problem isn't the numbers being distorted by a few exagerations, it's people using the outliers to make a point - but that's sales/politics/machismo rather than statistics... but then maybe that was their point...

  6. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Nothing to do with cyber-crime

    "a handful of people extrapolated to the whole population"

    OK you have just decribed almost every single survey ever (except the census which is 2 handfuls of people extrapolated).

    "surveys… are so compromised and biased that no faith whatever can be placed in their findings"

    Again nothing to do with cyber-crime. ISTM that reports based on surveys are just a way to lie using the science of statistics to claim that it's true.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It's well enough established that men claim to have more female sexual partners in sex surveys than women claim male partners, a discrepancy that can't be explained... "

    Men have better memories?

    1. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      I think it far more likely that women disregard the drunken 1 night stands when they wake up next to a troll, whereas blokes will include the drunken 1 night stand that looked fabulous with aid of beer goggles but was in fact a troll.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        a noble forum post

        So, call me a toll, I certainly count them.

        I have to, I'm going to stop when I run out of fingers to count them on.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Goodness! Whatever next?

    Revelations that the Social Security Fraud figures are also complete bullshit?

  9. nyelvmark

    I thought it had been proven

    ...that 63.714% of statistics are made up on the spot?

  10. Dom 3

    @Richard 120

    Proper estimates have nothing to do with intuition.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I think I need to go and lie down

    I actually agree with a statement that comes from Microsoft

  12. Steve 22

    Sex Survey fail

    "All it takes is for a few self-styled Don Juans to hopelessly distort the figures."

    As any feminist will tell you, men just can't help bragging.

    Or so we thought. Later studies have revealed that the reason for the discrepancy is that women are under-reporting rather than men over-reporting.

    This <sigh> according to the feminists because men shame women into this position or something.

    What ever it is, it's your fault, guys.

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