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Two thirds of British companies have been hit by cybercrime in the last 12 months, according to a survey out today.

Hacking, viruses and credit card fraud were the most common incidents, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) claims.

Its survey of 148 companies also found that the main threat came from external hackers, which accounted for 45 per cent of cases. Former staff and organised crime were both responsible for 13 per cent, and current employees for 11 per cent.

Although around 70 per cent of respondents said financial losses were negligible, they were most worried about the damage cybercrime could do to their reputation.

"This survey clearly shows that fears about potential financial losses and damage to reputation from cybercrime are stalling the growth of e-business, especially for business to consumer transactions," said CBI director general Digby Jones.

Perhaps what is most surprising about the survey is the fact that the CBI managed to find a relatively large number of businesses that hadn't been hit by viruses or hacking.

The CBI also urged the government to set up a UK centre for cybercrime complaints - similar to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center in the US, and to also extend the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 to attacks that cause IT systems to fail.

Meanwhile, another report out today suggests, unsurprisingly, that fear of fraud is hindering e-shopping. According to The Association for Payment Clearing Services, fewer than 1.5 per cent of credit and debit card purchases were made online last year. ®

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