BERLIN (Reuters) -The theft of IT equipment and data, as well as digital and industrial espionage and sabotage, will cost Germany 206 billion euros ($224 billion) in 2023, German digital association Bitkom said on Friday.
The damage will surpass the 200 billion euro mark for the third consecutive year, according to a Bitkom survey of more than 1,000 companies.
"The German economy is a highly attractive target for criminals and hostile states. The boundaries between organised crime and state-controlled actors are blurred," Bitkom President Ralf Wintergerst said.
Around three quarters of the companies surveyed suffered digital attacks in the past 12 months, falling from 84% of the companies in the previous year.
"The slight decline in the number of companies is a positive sign and indicates that protective measures are having an effect," said Wintergerst.
When asked whether "cyber attacks threaten your business existence", for the first time more than half of the companies, or 52%, said "yes". A year ago that figure stood at 45%, and two years ago it stood at 9%, according to the survey.
Of the companies that suffered attacks, 70% have had sensitive data stolen - an increase of 7 percentage points on the previous year. Similarly, 61% of companies have had their digital communications spied on - up 4 percentage points on the year.
"Our response to this growing threat is to significantly strengthen cooperation with our partners, rapid detection and reaction to attacks, as well as continuous adaptation of our defence mechanisms," said Sinan Selen, president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
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(Reporting by Maria Martinez, Editing by Friederike Heine and Susan Fenton)