High-tech crime cost the UK £2.45bn last year according to new figures from the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

Of 200 companies surveyed, 89 per cent said that they had experienced some form of hi-tech crime during that period, with 90 per cent suffering from unauthorised access to, or penetration of, their company systems, while 89 per cent suffered theft of information or data.

97 per cent of respondents said they had experienced virus attacks which had cost them almost £71 while financial fraud had cost nine per cent of them £68m.

However, the survey highlighted that not all the attacks were from an external source. Crimes committed by employees were also listed, with sabotage of data and networks topping the bill. But even so, more than a quarter of those surveyed did not undertake regular security audits.

Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, Deputy Head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said: “Over the past year, we have seen a sustained increase in the professionalism of cybercriminals. Companies are taking the brunt of criminals attempts to steal money and data, but consumers are also being hit.

“Billions of pounds are being lost to the UK economy through hi-tech crime, but on a positive note, we should acknowledge the increased effort put in by companies to protect themselves and their customers from this threat.

“The sharing of information between business and law enforcement is giving us the tools to put in place better defences to tackle hi-tech crime. It is only through better understanding of the scale and the scope of the problem that we will be able to build effective strategies to deal with it."