Companies based in London are not fully aware of the threat posed by cyber crime and could be undermining the capital's reputation as a safe place to do business.
The warning comes in a new report, Cyber secure: Making London business safe against online crime which was published on Wednesday by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which said that the cost of cyber-crime to business has ballooned - especially among smaller companies.
On average, this worst of these types of crime cost London business between £35,000 and £65,000 last year, but this has already risen to between £65,000 and £115,000, the report says.
In addition, the report said that over 50 per cent of London firms had experienced a cyber breach, and cyber crime numbers and costs could be far higher due to widespread under-reporting of online fraud. It said a lack of awareness of cyber threats and the high costs of protection remaining significant barriers to firms implementing stronger security measures.
And it warned that smaller firms are becoming increasingly targeted by cyber criminals as their systems are generally easier to access - but that they can then provide an open door to larger companies via their supply chains.
The report said that while government initiatives to improve awareness and resilience are welcome, they use overly complex, technical language which renders them inaccessible to the average SME.
The report also found that one of the big issues is a lack of awareness of the initiatives that have been developed to help business fight cyber crime such as the Action Fraud first point of contact for cyber crime victims.
The report said the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) should be made more easily accessible, and its availability should be more widely promoted to the business community, and that the Mayor of London should play a "leading role in promoting cyber security resilience among London businesses through the proposed London Business Crime Resilience Centre" the report said. The Mayor did make an announcement on business crime strategy in July.
The Government should look to promote Cyber Essentials more widely to SMEs and simplify the language used in the self-assessment documentation in order to make it easier for smaller firms to use, and the LCCI called on the government to keep open its Voucher for Cyber Security scheme and better promoting its availability the report said.