A new report suggests that cyber attacks are costing the global economy more than £328bn every year – worth more than the wealth of some countries.

It puts the crime on a level par with illegal drugs and piracy as far as damage to the economy is concerned, according to the McAfee report.

The online security firm reports that the major issue is a lack of understanding among the general public and suggests that as many as 200,000 jobs have been lost as a result of cyber attacks.

It’s Global Cost of Cyber crime report goes on to state that everyone has a responsibility to protect their own personal data and to ensure that everything is as protected as possible.

A real cost to the economy

Such is the extent of cyber crime that it would rank 27th in the world in terms of revenue if it were listed as a business – costing more than £300bn.

A U.S-led operation, known as Operation Tovar, recently disrupted an international cyber crime ring that had stolen more than $100m from businesses in the last three years.

The results of the operation also led the National Crime Agency to issue an alert into online safety, suggesting that people take greater steps to protect their personal data.

Various viruses and malware have been identified in recent times – all of which have encrypted data and taken money and information from the accounts of up to one million people.

Taking action against cyber crime

Updating anti-virus software was highlighted as an immediate suggestion to ensure that operating systems are protected from further attacks.

Passwords for websites that require vast volumes of personal data should also be updated in order to limit what data could be accessed.

This also means having different passwords for different sites – something that many people choose not to do, instead opting for something that is used across a range of sites.

Given the growth of digital businesses, more and more data is being inputted online, increasing the threat.

Protecting important details

Protection from attack can also be done if the levels of personal data – especially that containing financial information – are limited.

One such way of ensuring that this is the case is to use a prepaid card for online purchases as there is no direct link between the card and a bank account.

Furthermore, only the money on a card can be spent, meaning there is a limit to what an individual can spend and also on what can be accessed by someone else with the information.

This makes fraudulent activity a lot more difficult and provides additional protection should it be required.