A PwC survey recently found cybercrime and customer fraud top the list of external fraud threats faced by businesses worldwide, a new global economic crime and fraud survey has found, as almost half of companies surveyed said they had experienced fraud or financial crime in the past two years.

The PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey found that of those companies encountering fraud, 70 per cent said there were new incidents of fraud as a result of the disruptions caused by Covid-19.

If cybercrime was measured as a country, it would be the world’s third-largest economy after the US and China, according to other new research from the Cybersecurity Almanac 2022. Cybercrime inflicted damages totalling an estimated $6 trillion USD globally in 2021.

The PWC report, which includes as respondents 1,296 executives from 53 countries including the Republic of Ireland, looks at the threat of fraud, the cost of fraud and what companies need to do to develop stronger responses.

Hameed Saeed, CEO of the leading cybersecurity provider Pango Group states, “Focus on educating employees first. I can’t reinforce this enough. Continue to refresh your security. Hackers and cybercriminals keep getting smarter and more sophisticated. Help your employees do the same. Next, recognize that a security breach is not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of “when.” So be prepared. Regularly refresh your incident response plan and your crisis communication plan. During a breach, it’s easy to panic, having a well thought out plan in advance is the best way to contain the panic.”

Cybercrime overtook customer fraud in this year’s PWC survey as the most common type of fraud by an external perpetrator experienced by organisations, with the rapid shift to digital over the past two years also opening companies up to more risk.

The highest incidence of cyberattack was in the tech, media and telecoms businesses, with two-thirds of respondents from this sector saying they had experienced some form of fraud. Meanwhile, Irish businesses have seen a rise in ransomware and phishing attacks since the pandemic began.

Pat Moran, PwC Ireland cybersecurity and digital forensics leader said, “In Ireland, in our experience, we have seen increased levels of cybercrime since the onset of the pandemic, particularly phishing and ransomware attacks, partially driven by increased remote working and also by an increased sophistication of the cyber criminals.”

Mr Moran said Ireland’s large concentration of foreign direct investment made it a target for cybercrime, and the country remained on high alert.

NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email info@nfg.ie.