Belfast Telegraph

Cybercrime taking more than £147 billion a year from UK economy, report says

Cybercrime stands to cost the UK economy more than £147 billion per year, a new report claims.

Data compiled by the Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives says that as many as 1.8 million companies in the UK could have experienced a security breach in 2015, and the subsequent costs to business are rising.

Between 2014 and 2015, hacking increased 9% among large businesses, and 14% among small organisations, accounting for viruses, denial of service attacks or unauthorised infiltration by hackers.

Meanwhile, the price tag associated with cybercrime has more than doubled for large organisations, costing each business as much as £3.14 million in 2015, up from £1.5 million a year earlier.

For small organisations, hacking cost individual businesses as much as £311,000 each last year, up from an upward estimate of £115,000 in 2014.

Gareth Bacon, a GLA Conservative London Assembly Member said: "Data is the true currency of modern society and hackers are making a mint because companies are leaving the metaphorical door unlocked.

"This is theft on a massive scale with conservative estimates putting the potential cost of online data theft in the UK at £147 billion a year," he added.

The concentration of businesses in London means the British capital alone is being deprived of about £36 billion per year, the report explains.

GLA Conservatives are now calling on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to develop a new cybersecurity standard that would inform businesses of simple security measures that could help keep their operations safe.

Meanwhile, demand for cybersecurity experts is already on the rise.

PwC earlier this month unveiled plans to hire more than 1,000 new tech specialists by 2020 to address growing online security concerns among UK businesses.

It follows a number of high profile hackings at British companies in recent months, including TalkTalk, HSBC and Sage.

Thousands of customers' bank account and contact details were accessed after a cyberattack at TalkTalk, the telecoms firm announced in October.

Banking giant HSBC was later hit by a denial of service attack that temporarily shut down its online banking service in February.

Software accounting firm Sage said earlier this month that the employee details for about 280 companies were accessed by an unauthorised user via an internal l ogin.