Cybercrime is rocketing out of control resulting in information losses totalling billions of pounds, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The findings came in PwC’s Internet Security and Business Risks Survey.
Its research revealed 64% of network and internet sites have experienced some form of security breach, ranging from fraud to denial-of-services attacks – such as those experienced at Yahoo! and eBay – to hacking and virus infections.
In 1999, global information losses totalled more than $45bn (Pounds 31.2bn).
The rapid growth of e-business, which has eliminated many of the traditional corporate barriers by opening up delivery channels and standardising business applications, is considered the primary reason for the growth in breaches.
While hackers have grabbed the media spotlight lately by breaking into systems at high-profile companies such as BT and various government sites, the vast majority of serious cyber fraud is committed by company employees.
And worse, one third of cyber crimes involve staff in managerial positions, with a quarter of offences relying on co-operation between an employee and an outsider.
Home secretary Jack Straw this week launched The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit – a focussed police unit set up to tackle computer-based crime.
Cybercrime offenders ranging from fraudsters to paedophiles will be tracked down, while some 40 officers will operate the unit from a secret location in London.
But securing the prosecution of cyber criminials will not be easy. Lack of legal precedents, jurisdictional issues, technological advancements and the difficulty in retrieving forensic evidence could hamper investigations.
‘Modern technologies such as the internet offer up huge legitimate benefits, buts also powerful opportunities for criminals, from those involved in financial fraud to the unlawful activities of paedophiles,’ the home secretary said.