Cybercrime costs £266bn every year – about as much as the global drugs trade – according to a new report revealed exclusively by Sky News.
Computer security company McAfee said that cybercrime is worth 0.8% of the global economy.
And if cybercrime was a country, its GDP would rank 27th – above Singapore, Austria and Denmark.
The UK ranked fifth in the G20 countries most affected, with an annual loss of £6.8bn as a result of cybercrime.
One British company told officials that it had incurred revenue losses of £770m because of one attack, through the loss of intellectual property.
The report also suggests that cybercrime leads to 150,000 job losses in Europe every year.
It warns that “the cost of cybercrime will continue to increase as more business functions move online and as more companies and consumers around the world connect to the internet”.
Last year, 93% of large corporations and 87% of small to medium sized companies suffered data breaches, with the average cost of an attack worth £770,000 and £60,000 respectively.
Raj Samani, chief technical officer of McAfee EMEA, told Sky News: “In the past, studies such as this have relied on surveys.
“We commissioned a think-tank to work with economists and intellectual property lawyers, as well as the security industry, to understand the true impact of cybercrime.”
The £266bn figure, more than twice as high as previous estimates, is based on data aggregated from 28 countries around the world, which between them account for 80% of global cybercrime.
The report comes after a number of high-profile cyberattacks, notably the hacking of eBay users’ details and the Game Over Zeus and Cryptolocker pieces of malware.
Christian-Marc Lifländer, a cyberdefence policy adviser at Nato, told Sky News: “To tackle the problem, you first have to realise it is a serious problem.
“It is no longer an emerging threat, it is here. It is a new way of life, in many ways.”
Paul Gillen, head of operations at Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, told Sky News: “The area of internet investigations has been a new area of responsibility for law enforcement officers and agencies throughout the globe.
“We’ve been trying to get agencies to work together on single operations targeting cybercriminals causing such devastating losses.
“It has been a difficult passage. No country can do this alone.
“Criminals do not need to turn up at the location of the crime – they’re doing it from the safety of their own living rooms.”
Source Sky News