Millions lost to cybercrime on both sides of the border



Mike Harris
Mike Harris, partner in cyber security services

The Irish and Northern Ireland economies are losing almost £500 million (€700m) a year due to cybercrime, according to a new report published by global accountancy firm Grant Thornton.

Cybercrime hurts the island-wide economy by around £451.76 million (€635m) per year, including an annual cost to Northern Ireland of £98.71 million (€139m).

The figures were announced as the company launched its International Business Report (IBR) in Belfast yesterday, compiling the results of a global survey of 2,500 business leaders in 36 economies.

It said that the largest losses in Northern Ireland were related to fraud that had previously happened offline - such as tax fraud (£38m), welfare fraud (£6m) and tax filing fraud (£1.7m).

A further £19 million was lost due to copyright infringing software, £12.5 million in cybercrime clean-up costs, and £1.35 million in illegal music downloads.

The firm’s research also indicated that only 16 per cent of businesses in the Republic of Ireland believe that cybercrime is a threat, despite 22 per cent of them suffering a cyber-attack in the last year.

Over half (52 per cent) of Irish firms said they have no comprehensive strategy to prevent digital crime, compared with 37 per cent in the UK.

Mike Harris, partner in cyber security services at the firm’s Dublin office, said criminals were targeting individuals and businesses of all sizes and the “key defence strategy is around employee awareness”.

He added: “Grant Thornton is offering private and public sector organisations an all-island, one stop shop, from e-discovery to support litigation and investigations to computer forensic services in proving digital frauds such as digitally manipulated or deleted documents.

“Financial crime is increasingly perpetrated by cyber-attack and our clients need assistance to establish the facts, investigate the issue and assess the insurance position.”