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Hacking cost businesses $800 million

Hacker break-ins cost businesses worldwide an estimated $800 million in 1995.

Hackers cost businesses worldwide an estimated $800 million in 1995 through break-ins to computer systems at banks, hospitals, and other large businesses, according to investigators of the Senate's Permanent Investigations Subcommittee.

Despite the staggering losses, few businesses report the security breaches for fear of negative publicity that could scare off customers, officials say. Also, most losses incurred by banks do not appear in required federal reports, according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal.

The subcommittee's eight-month investigation showed that security problems seem to be worse in the private sector than in government. More than $400 million of the calculated losses were attributed to U.S. businesses.

Fear of hacker attacks has prompted many corporate users to boost budgets for security spending. A study conducted by The Yankee Group, a Boston-based consulting firm, and Infosecurity News showed that corporate security budgets have already increased by 25 percent, with more increases expected this year.

The study also concluded that nearly half of all break-ins are committed by internal users.

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