Reuters-Cybercrime Costing UK Business Billions:
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By Bernhard Warner, European Internet Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - Cybercrime cost British companies hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions, of pounds in lost business last year, and the next wave of Internet attacks is likely to be more severe, a conference heard on Tuesday.
In a police survey of 201 of Britain's largest companies, 83 percent said they had experienced some form of cybercrime in 2003, costing more than 195 million pounds in business downtime, lost productivity and perceived damage to their brand or share price.
'Whilst it is too early to put an accurate figure on the total financial impact for UK businesses, all the indicators suggest that we are talking about billions rather than millions,' Len Hynds, head of Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), said at the e-Crime Congress in London.
The crime wave's biggest target was the financial sector. Three UK financial services firms, which the NHTCU declined to name, reported cybercrime-related damages totaling more than 60 million pounds last year.
A relatively new crime hitting the sector is known as 'phishing' where fraudsters send dubious e-mails or create spoof Web sites hoping to entice users to hand over their credit card or banking details.
Most major UK banks have been hit by the scam, including Barclays, Lloyds TSB and NatWest. Hynds said 50 UK businesses reported they were the victim of phishing attacks last year.
EASTERN EUROPEAN AND ASIAN CRIME GANGS
Police blame organized crime gangs, particularly those in Eastern Europe and Asia, as the biggest culprit for the outbreak."