The cost of data breaches as a result of cybercrime will rise to US$2.1 trillion globally by 2019 as a result of the rapid digitization of consumers’ lives, according to research from market analyst firm Juniper Research.

Juniper, in a study titled ‘The Future of Cybercrime & Security: Financial and Corporate Threats & Mitigation stated that this figure is almost four times the estimated cost of breaches expected in 2015, with the majority of hacks affecting extant IT and network infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the average cost of a data breach by 2020 will exceed US$150 million, increasing as more business infrastructure gets connected.

“While new threats targeting mobile devices and the Internet of Things are being reported at an increasing rate, the number of infected devices is minimal in comparison to more traditional computing devices,” noted Juniper.

The report also highlighted the increasing professionalism of cybercrime over the last year, assisted by the emergence of products such as malware creation software. Casual activist hacks are also on the decline, with hacktivism becoming less prolific but more successful. This is a trend Juniper expects to continue.

“Currently, we aren’t seeing much dangerous mobile or IoT malware because it’s not profitable,” said report author James Moar. “The kind of threats we will see on these devices will be either ransomware, with consumers’ devices locked down until they pay the hackers to use their devices, or as part of botnets, where processing power is harnessed as part of a more lucrative hack.” He added:

“With the absence of a direct payout from IoT hacks, there is little motive for criminals to develop the required [ransomware] tools.”

North America is the most vulnerable region worldwide, with 60 per cent of anticipated data breaches in 2015 set to occur on the continent. Juniper expects this share to decrease over time, however, as other countries become both richer and more digitized.

The report concurs with another released last month by security software company Symantec, which found hackers had a successful 2014, with attacks more numerous, more effective, and quicker than ever before.

Last year saw a 4,000 per cent increase in crypto-ransomware attacks, while breaches against companies increased by 23 per cent, with healthcare firms being most susceptible.