Cybercrime accounted for half of all fraud committed in the UK in the first six months of this year, according to a legal expert.
Steven Philippsohn, senior litigation partner at law firm Philippsohn, Crawfords, Berwald, said this figure would rise as it becomes easier for criminals to break online security.
Speaking at the Compsec computer security conference in London last week, he said: "The internet is a criminal's charter. There is an increasing number of targets and despite what people say, buying online is not the same as giving your credit card to someone in a restaurant.
"In that scenario, maybe 10 people will see your credit card details. The minute you put those details on to a website and that site is hacked, the information can be accessed by millions if not billions around the world."
Philippsohn said it is cheap for fraudsters to set up an online scam. "They don't need premises, and they can set up a website claiming anything they like and give a very good impression of what can be an absolute scam."
He said there has been a 56 per cent increase in hacking in the UK over the past 12 months, with most hackers seeking financial gain, for example by using their hack to demand money, or for political reasons such as posting messages for a certain cause on a company's website.
"But the internal hackers are the most dangerous," said Philippsohn. "They don't need to break down firewalls and can cause a huge amount of damage."
He said there are far more security breaches such as hacking taking place everyday than anyone realises. "Examples such as the Microsoft case are only the ones that have been made public; imagine all the ones that haven't."
Philippsohn also slammed some of the larger companies recently involved in security scares. "In the Powergen case, where customers credit card details were released on the web, they [Powergen] had the worst commercial attitude. They didn't want it to come out so they decided to attack the guy who discovered the flaw," he said.
"For 11 days customers didn't know their info was out there. This is a major, major problem. If there is a fraud, companies should go back and tell their customers."
Philippsohn also warned that banks and retailers are realising they may have a problem as far as internet security is concerned - and that they don't want to pay for it. "Customers could be in for a rough ride," he said.
"We are very much in the Stone Age of the internet, but we must have 21st century protection for 21st century technology. But the main priority is not catching the perpetrator of these frauds, but going after the money - that is what the customer is concerned with. You will be confronting the fraudster at sometime, but the focus must be on getting the customers' money back."
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