It is estimated that the costs of cybercrime to the Irish economy are over €600m a year, according to an analysis conducted by business advisory firm Grant Thornton. 

The report, published today by Grant Thornton, revealed a marked increase in the number of data breaches in Ireland.

Notifications of security breaches rose 36% in 2012. Incidents are typically under-reported to the Data Protection Commissioner due to the potential reputational damage companies may incur should they disclose a failure. 

"Cybersecurity is a growing problem for Irish companies and imposes significant financial costs. The loss of confidence in a company due to a cybersecurity incident can be devastating, particularly where customer information is lost or client funds comprised", Mike Harris of Grant Thornton said today. 

Additionally, each incident can involve a company incurring significant costs. For instance, in the case of Loyaltybuild, €500,000 was invested in new security systems after the credit card details of up to 500,000 people were compromised in a security breach. 

The most common cybercrime activity in Ireland include identity fraud, online scams, cyber theft and cyber extortion. 

The criminals involved are often not based in Ireland. It is estimated that 55% of cybercrime activity is the work of international organised crime gangs, operating in countries where regulation is weak. 

"Irish businesses should be focusing their planned cybersecurity investments on the ability to detect and react to data security breaches. In the current environment, it is not a question of if an Irish business will be subjected to an online attack but a question of when?", Mr Harris concluded. 

Grant Thornton recommends the Government develop a national cyber security strategy outlining how Government agencies will work with businesses to minimise the threat of criminal attacks.