British firms are among the most likely to be hit by financial crime in the world – and the situation is getting worse.

This was the message from consultancy firm PwC, which revealed in its biannual Global Economic Crime Survey that 64 per cent of UK businesses were hit by economic crime in the past two years.

It was the second highest national figure in the world, only exceeded by companies in South Africa and well above the global average figure of 46 per cent.

Moreover, the situation has been deteriorating, as the figure in Britain was 56 per cent in 2020 and 50 per cent in 2018.

The crimes committed include fraud, corruption and other offences, with this year’s survey including supply chain crime as a separate category for the first time.

Explaining how threats were changing, PwC said fraud is “now a greater and more costly threat than ever before” and that firms will need to take action to avoid paying a heavy price.

Among the kinds of steps a firm will be wise to take is comprehensive business insurance, including cover against cyber crime and the interruption of business that such activity can cause.

Curiously, a the findings for the UK revealed cyber crime accounted for a lower share of incidents than two years ago, down to 32 per cent from 42 per cent, something Computer Weekly suggested may be due to greater awareness of attacks like malware.

However, head of digital and forensic investigations at PwC Fran Marwood said this was surprising and might mask a lot of crimes that could have taken place without being detected due to firms not yet bringing their systems in line with increased remote working.

Firms may also be at risk because of cyber criminals targeting data centres and cloud services. For this reason, the government is currently running a consultation on how to improve the security of these services, not least because so many companies rely on them to keep their data safe and systems running.

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