Cybercrime casts wide net

Cybercrime and other forms of economic crime are hitting companies in all sectors of industry, but telecommunications and IT companies appear to be among the most targeted, according to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

In its Global Economic Crime Survey 2003, PwC said that 47 per cent of telecommunications and 46 per cent of IT companies surveyed reported suffering from economic crimes, figures only exceeded by he banking and insurance industries. The survey covered 3,623 companies from all industry sectors in 50 countries.

But PwC warned that the apparent high incidence of economic crime in high-tech companies may partly reflect the ability of companies in those well-regulated sectors to detect crime.

“Due to their regulation, those companies have usually developed more sophisticated control and compliance systems,” PwC said in the report. “The higher reported levels of fraud in those sectors partly reflect higher sensitivity to – and detection of – economic crime.”

Economic crime covers many areas, including theft, financial misrepresentation, product piracy, money laundering, bribery and cybercrime.

While asset misappropriation, or theft, was the biggest reported category, 15 per cent of the companies surveyed reported suffering losses from cybercrime. The average loss to cybercrime among the companies was US$812,000, but over two-thirds of the companies said they could not put an accurate figure on how much cybercrime had cost them.

As well as monetary loss, cybercrime had a strong negative effect on staff morale, business relations and company reputation, PwC reported.