The frequency and cost of crime is on the rise with Irish firms under attack from threats new and old — neither of which they are particularly well equipped to handle. The average cost of fraud alone has more than trebled to €1.7m in two years.
The incidence of cyber attacks has risen rapidly as well. It has almost doubled in the past four years, with more than four in 10 Irish companies falling victim to tech-savvy criminals in the past year.
Companies are being hit for larger sums ranging from €92,000 to €4.6m more often than their peers across the world too, according to a report compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Cybercrime is also perceived to be the highest economic crime risk going forward for Irish businesses.
Looking to the future, cybercrime is forecasted to be the most frequent type of economic crime,” said the company’s leader for cybercrime, Pat Moran.
While the new and evolving threat posed by cyber attacks is perceived to be the greatest threat to Irish businesses, it is certainly not the only risk factor that needs to be considered.
The report also shows businesses struggling to counter traditional sources of criminality such as theft and fraud.
A third of Irish firms surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers reported economic crime in the last two years.
This represents a marked increase in since 2014 when 26% of firms reported being the victim of crime. The most prevalent offence businesses are falling victim to is “asset misappropriation”, or the theft of company assets.
This includes theft of assets, cash, supplies and equipment by anyone within the organisation including directors and employees.
More than half of those affected by crime in the past two years fell victim to theft of this sort. Cybercrime, accounting fraud and money laundering were the next most common offences.
Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the research highlighted the need for vigilance on the part of companies and individuals and for firms to look for outside support and advice.
Rather than being overly perturbed by the increase in crime affecting their businesses, the report, which surveyed 101 Irish companies and more than 6,300 globally across 115 countries, suggests companies are less effective in detecting fraud than they were two years ago and that boards are not paying enough attention to protecting themselves from cybercrime.