Page last updated at 05:46 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 06:46 UK

Cost of cyber crime reaches 390m

Computer user
Experts say many people do not recognise e-crime danger signs

Businesses have been warned that internet crime is costing Wales around £390m a year.

The revelation comes as about 400 business leaders and experts gather for a summit to tackle the growing problem.

The event, organised by e-Crime Wales, brings together the assembly government, experts and police forces.

It says cyber crime can hit unlikely victims, like Nefyn and District Golf Club in Gwynedd, which was targeted by hackers from the former Soviet Union.

Criminals from ex-Soviet bloc countries such as Latvia and Estonia set their sights on the club on the Lleyn peninsula last year.

"What they were trying to to is hack into the computer system and steal data," explained Simon Dennis, the club secretary.

"We were somewhat shocked that organised crime, which in essence is what is behind these types of attacks, would target somewhere like Nefyn and District Golf Club.

"Initially, we thought it was somewhat of a hoax, whereby groups of youngsters etc, would be trying to break in to the system.

"But once we were able to back-check and validate the addresses, we found it was [coming] from the former Soviet Union - and that's when we really took the threat quite seriously."

The golf club managed to fight off the cyber attacks, without its data being compromised.

Danger signs

But dealing with the e-criminals came at a price. The club had to hire a computer specialist to beef up its technical security, landing it with a bill of more than £10,000.

It was a classic example of what can happen in the speedy world of electronic communications, according to e-crime Wales.

Andrea Barnard E-Crime Wales Police Team Manager
People are aware that there are problems out there, but I don't think they ever truly believe it is going to happen to them
Acting Det Sgt Andrea Barnard, e-Crime Wales

"I think the issue with the internet is who is responsible for what, in terms of safety, in terms of security, in terms of ownership," argued Simon Lavin, e-Crime Wales' strategic planning manager, who put the estimated cost of cyber crime at about £390m.

"If you use the analogy of road safety, I think we've all got used to it over the last 100 or so years that the car has been around.

"In terms of the internet, that's not clear at all.

"If you went in to town on a Friday night, you wouldn't walk down a dark alley, you recognise a dark alley as being dangerous.

"In the field of e-crime people don't recognise the danger signs."

In the push to get its message over, this year's e-Crime Wales summit is attracting speakers from the FBI, Interpol, and computer giant Microsoft.

It is also an opportunity for Wales' first e-crime police team manager to offer her advice.

'Stay safe'

Acting Det Sgt Andrea Barnard of North Wales Police recently took up the post, becoming a point of contact for businesses, the police and the assembly government.

"I think people are aware that there are problems out there, but I don't think they ever truly believe it is going to happen to them," she explained.

"Therefore they don't act, they don't take measures to protect themselves from e-crime.

"I would just like businesses in north Wales to be aware that e-crime can happen to anybody.

"But having said that - for them not to be totally frightened by that. Come and seek advice.

"Come and have a chat to us and we can explain the fundamentals of e-crime and how to stay safe."

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