Cybercrime is costing North West’s businesses almost £107m every year, that’s according to a new report from Lancaster University.

It found that smaller businesses are most vulnerable to hackers and industrial espionage, partly due to their size, but also as they’re unlikely to have robust security measures in place. However, larger engineering, finance, insurance and even defence firms are insecure.

The North West is said to be most at risk, due to the prevalence of SMEs.

“This report highlights the growing threat that cyber-crime poses for businesses and organisations across the region,” said Dr Daniel Prince, associate director of Security Lancaster.

“As technology continually evolves and becomes more prevalent in business and our personal lives, there are more opportunities for criminals, who may not even be in the UK, to steal money, private data, or intellectual property.

Dr Prince

Dr Prince

“Business leaders need to take these threats seriously and put security measures in place if individual companies, and the North West as a whole, are to prosper.”

The report was commissioned by Security Lancaster – an EPSRC-GCHQ Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research.

It also found that should businesses and organisations invest in cyber-security measures, they could save £70m in losses to the cyber-criminals.

While the report’s authors admit that the full extent of cybercrime is difficult to calculate, they have used “conservative” figures which say that half of all firms experience at least one breach a year.

“Despite the alarming figures that reveal how damaging cyber-crime is to our economy the report also highlights that there are business opportunities to grow the cyber-security sector in the region,” added Dr Price.

“The report highlights the need for business owners to undertake simple steps to protect their businesses and livelihoods. This provides a very significant market demand for business providing the vital protection to keep our economy on track.

“We have the potential to create an industry worth £100 millions in the North West. However, as the report also points out, there is a shortage of people with the right skills to fulfil these roles – we are working on addressing that skills-gap here at Lancaster University, as well as providing support through our academic and research expertise.”

The independent report was produced by Pierre Audoin Consultants.