Hacking attacks on businesses up 38% in 2015, study shows

Criminal activity online cost businesses average of €2.3m last year, PwC survey finds

Customer and employee records and intellectual property were the most common targets, according to PwC. Photograph:  Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Customer and employee records and intellectual property were the most common targets, according to PwC. Photograph: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

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Criminal activity online, such as theft of intellectual property and customer records, cost businesses around the world an average of €2.3 million last year, a new study shows.

A global survey of 10,000 organisations, published on Monday, shows that the number of hacking attacks on businesses rose 38 per cent in 2015.

The figures, released by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), show the average cost of such incidents dropped from €2.7 million in 2014 to €2.3 million last year.

However, the firm’s data indicates that about 10 per cent of attacks left victims with bills of €10 million or more, while 7 per cent of them had to pay out sums between €900,000 and €9 million.

Customer and employee records and intellectual property were the most common targets. More than 9 per cent of those attacked were left facing potential lawsuits as a result.

PwC also found 91 per cent of the 10,000 organisations it interviewed had a security system, most of which were in line with standards laid down either in the United States or Europe.

More than half had taken on a security officer to run those systems, while many of their boards had become more directly involved in overseeing information security.

Leonard McAuliffe of PwC Ireland said the survey revealed interesting trends, such as collaboration between firms, sharing intelligence and purchasing of insurance.

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