Cybercrime cost the Irish economy €9.6 billion last year, new research by Grant Thornton has calculated.

Ransomware attacks alone and the cost of fixing them accounted for €2 billion of that total, the study found, with computer viruses accounting for €1.3 billion and phishing €1 billion.

Overall, the analysis claims there was a 50% increase in online crime in Ireland in 2020.

"Cybercriminals are innovative and opportunistic. This means we also need to be innovative in how we mitigate against potential cyber-attack risks," said Head of Cyber Security Services at Grant Thornton Ireland Mike Harris.

"Ransomware attacks, for example, were once targeted mainly at consumers but we now know businesses, organisations and governments are the main targets for these types of crimes," he added.

The last time Grant Thornton produced this report was in 2014 and in that year the cost of cybercrime to the economy was €630m.

The report estimates the direct and indirect costs due to cyber-attacks carried out against businesses, individuals, and government.

In May, the Health Service Executive suffered a substantial ransomware attack that paralysed systems across the health service, leading to widespread disruption to patient services.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic shift in the number of people working from home, which in turn has increased organisation's risk of cyber attack, experts say.

Citing research carried out by Microsoft in September of last year, the report says 43% of employees face no restrictions when accessing work-related documents remotely, while 33% of employees use the same password for work and personal devices.

30% of workers user personal email accounts to share confidential work materials.