UK firms pay price for rise in e-crime

As Whitehall delays its strategy to tackle computer crime, police figures show the rising cost to businesses

As Whitehall delays its strategy to tackle computer crime, police figures show the rising cost to businesses.

New figures on the growing cost of computer crime to UK business capped a grim week in IT security, as the government admitted its national strategy on e-crime had been delayed.

Research by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, to be released today, will show that computer crime is hitting four out of five firms. It is costing each affected business an average of £1.1m a year, with those hit by financial fraud losing an average of £2.7m.

The survey showed 70% of the 200 organisations questioned believe they are spending enough on security, raising concerns that many organisations are complacent about the problem.

The risk was highlighted by a separate DTI survey that showed only 20% of companies back up their desktops, and only 8% of companies test their disaster recovery plans.

The findings will add to pressure on the government to put more resources into its e-crime strategy, which has been put back until at least April or May, following delays at the Home Office. The strategy, originally due to be announced this week, will open the way for greater partnerships between businesses, law enforcement and suppliers to share data on computer crime and collaborate on crime prevention.

Against this background, Bill Gates, speaking after the recent leak of Microsoft source code onto the internet, was today set to address the RSA conference in San Francisco, which is expected to highlight the need for partnerships between users, suppliers, police and the internet community.

As users and suppliers grapple with security problems, David Lacey, chairman of the Jericho group of FTSE companies and director of security and risk management at the Post Office, called for a new approach to the issue.

"We all need to stand together. We have to get away from letting commercial interests and competition stand in the way of collaboration. Police, suppliers, government and users need to start working together," he said.

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